{meta} Agenda item - Covid-19 Additional Relief Fund Scheme.

Agenda item

Decision:

Salford City Council - Record of Decision

 

I, Councillor Hinds, Lead Member for Finance and Support Services, in exercise of the powers contained within the Council Constitution do hereby:

 

§  Note the progress made to date awarding COVID-19 Additional Relief under Scheme 1 and 2 using Local Authority discretionary relief powers under section 47 of the Local Government Finance Act 1988 (as amended)

§  Approve the arrangements for Scheme 3 to remove the Rateable Value Cap for the award of Covid-19 Additional relief with effect from 2.9.22

§  Approve the recommendation to automatically allocate any remaining funding at scheme end 23.9.22 to approved applications

 

The Reasons are:

On 25 March 2021, the government announced a new COVID-19 Additional relief Fund (CARF) of £1.5 billion. The fund was available to support those businesses affected by the pandemic but that are ineligible for existing support linked to business rates. The relief is available to reduce Business Rates chargeable amounts in respect of 2021/22.

 

On 15.12.21 the Department for Levelling Up Housing & Communities released the guidance for Local Authorities to administer COVID-19 Additional relief Fund (CARF) and published details of the Local Authorities funding allocation. Salford City Council allocation is £7,957,365.

 

As this is a measure for 2021/22 only, the government have not changed the legislation relating to the reliefs available to properties. It is for individual local billing authorities to adopt a local scheme and determine in each individual case when, having regard to the guidance, to grant relief under section 47 of the Local Government Finance Act 1988 (as amended), to grant relief.

 

The government will fully reimburse local authorities for the local share of the discretionary relief, using a grant under section 31 of the Local Government Act 2003.

 

This report sets out the current arrangements in place under Salford City Council Scheme 2 for the award of COVID-19 Additional Relief and take up data. The proposal for continuing with support under a revised Scheme 3 to remove the Rateable Value Cap. The recommendation to increase the overall % applied for the period (June 2021 – March 2022) on all current applications received to distribute any remaining funding before the 30 September 2022 deadline.

 

Options considered and rejected were:

The maximum Rateable Value has been changed to assess the impact on the funding allocation received. Consideration has been given to auto award relief to all eligible businesses however as this relief is subject to subsidy control measures this has been rejected. Increase the % relief awarded; initial analysis indicated this was not feasible within the funding allocation. This option will be reconsidered if on the 23 September 2022 there is still funding remaining, we propose to increase the overall % applied for the 9-month period (June 2021 – March 2022) on all current applications received to distribute as much of the fund available within Salford before the 30 September 2022 deadline.

 

 

Assessment of Risk: Please refer to Legal and Financial Implications.

 

The source of funding is: Covid-19 Additional Relief Fund (CARF) 2021/22.

 

Legal Advice obtained: Nicky Smith, Senior Solicitor –

 

As with the previous versions of the Scheme, it is important that the administration of the Scheme by the Authority complies with the requirements of the Government Guidance, not least in order that Central Government will fully reimburse the Authority for discretionary relief awards up to the minimum level of its allocation. The proposals will also comply with the requirements of Section 47 Local Government Finance Act 1988.  

 

 

 

Financial Advice obtained: David Eden, Finance Manager –

 

The retrospective awarding of this relief in respect of 2021/22 will reduce the gross liability and thus the collection fund’s income for the current 2022/23 financial year. However, the government will fully reimburse local authorities for their share of the discretionary relief through section 31 grant up to the maximum funding allocation for each billing area. The maximum funding allocation for the area of Salford is £7,957,365. The council has received the full section 31 grant allocation up front to ensure that its cashflow is not adversely affected by the relief but any unused funding by the end of the scheme will need to be returned.

 

The relief scheme should therefore have an overall neutral financial impact on the council as long as the total relief awarded does not exceed £7,957,365.

 

 

Procurement Advice obtained: N/A

 

HR Advice obtained: N/A

 

Climate Change Advice obtained: N/A

 

Contact Officer: Jane Betts                                  Tel. 0161 793 2710

 

 

This decision is not subject to consideration by another Lead Member.

 

The appropriate scrutiny panel to call-in the decision is the Overview and Scrutiny Board.

 

 

Signed: Councillor Bill Hinds                                                                                

Lead Member for Finance and Support Services

Dated: 25 August 2022

 

 

This decision was published on Thursday 25 August 2022

 

This decision will come into force at 4.00 p.m. on Friday 2 September 2022 unless it is called-in in accordance with the decision-making process rules.

 

 

Supporting documents: