Help for riot-affected businesses
If your business was affected by the riots in English cities last week, there are measures available to help you get through this difficult time.
Here’s a quick summary of what’s available.
Local councils are empowered to exempt the most seriously riot-damaged properties from business rates or council tax, so speak to your local council if you think this may apply to your property.
If you have property insurance, you should obtain a crime number from the police and phone your insurer’s helpline. The Association of British Insurers has confirmed that its members will make helping riot-affected businesses a key priority.
If you’re under- or uninsured, you can seek compensation from your local police authority under the Riot Damages Act. You have up to 42 days to do this (that would normally be 14 days but the Home Secretary has announced that they will grant an extension). You can download a form to apply for compensation.
Begin trading again
Your business may still be suffering damage to its trade after the riots, for example if you lost equipment, or potential customers are staying away from the area.
In that case you can apply to your local council for some money from the High Street Support Scheme. £20million has been set aside for councils to use in this way.
Unable to pay tax or file accounts
If you have a tax bill due which you can’t meet, for example because money was stolen from your safe, you’ll need to call HMRC’ new Civil Disorder helpline number which is: 0845 3661207. By calling this number you’ll be able to speak to HMRC and agree a payment schedule for tax bills you can’t pay, and hear what you should do in the event that, for example, your tax and accounting records were destroyed in the rioting.
Companies House haven’t made any concrete promises, but have said that they will “consider giving an extension” if you’re unable to file your accounts due to the rioting, and will “deal sympathetically” with any late filing penalties involved.
Need more finance
Money does take time to come through from insurance companies, and with so many claims to process, it may well be that you’ll need more short-term finance until your insurance company pays.
The major banks have created helplines for their riot-affected customers to call and have said that they will “sympathetically and sensitively consider” each business’s problems, and will look at offering additional financial support to affected businesses, such as short- or medium-term loans to replace stock and equipment, and repayment holidays on existing loans.
ACAS has issued guidance on good practice for businesses whose staff can’t get to work, or whose workplace has been damaged by the riots.
The High Street Fund has also made money available to small businesses affected by the riots.
If your business has been affected by the riots then I’m sure it will take a while before things even begin to feel that they’re approaching normal again, but hopefully some of the pointers above will help ease that transition.
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