Important Update COVID-19 Business Grants

17 April 2020


The £10,000 and £25,000 cash grants to businesses announced by the Government for Sunderland companies are being administered by Sunderland City Council's Business Rates team. 

Work will continue to get the grants paid out to all those that qualify as quickly as possible.

The Council envisages that it will have processed the significant majority of payments - for those properties where the online information has been provided and it has been possible to validate the information supplied - by the end of Friday 17 April. This has resulted in over 2,200 payments, with a value of over £25m, having been made as at 15 April with more continuing to be paid this week.

There are a number of properties which are potentially eligible for a payment but where the Council requires some further information (see below) to what has been supplied at this stage.  The types of queries for eligible properties fall into the following broad categories:

  • Incorrect / invalid bank account information - for example, incorrect bank sort code and bank number combinations, invalid sort codes, missing digits from either the sort code or the bank account number;
  • Occupation of premises information - for example, where a business has not previously registered with the Council to pay business rates.  This is generally arising where neither the previous occupier nor the new occupier have advised the Council’s Business Rates section that there has been a change in occupation for the premises concerned.
  • Duplicate submissions – where more than one online form has been received and the information on the submissions is not consistent; and
  • New or existing properties which are currently subject to an assessment by the Valuation Office Agency (VOA).  For eligible properties in this category, the Council is unfortunately unable to make a payment until the VOA completes the assessment and advises the Council of the outcome.

For properties in these categories, the additional information to be provided could include some, or all, of the following:

  • a copy of your signed lease or license agreement
  • copies of the relevant business bank account statements covering at least a period of 1 month and including 11 March 2020
  • copies of utility bills in relation to the property showing usage prior to 11 March
  • personal photographic identification eg passport / driving licence
  • a completed Small Business Rate Relief form (which will be sent to you if necessary)

The Council will primarily contact businesses by email in relation to these queries - to advise of the position and any further information which is required.  Work in full on addressing these queries will commence Monday 20 April.   

There a number of properties which are unfortunately not eligible to receive the grant funding.  These include properties that do not fall into the eligible categories set by Government, and those with a rateable value of more than £15,000 for the Small Business Grant Fund and of more than £51,000 for the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund.  Please note the rateable value is not the amount of business rates you are required to pay as set out on your business rates bill.  In very approximate terms, your rateable value is double the value of your gross business rates bill).   Work to contact these property occupiers will commence Monday 20 April.

The Council will also be contacting those occupiers who it considers may be eligible for the grant funding but have not yet provided any information.

Any business or organisation that has not yet submitted their details on the online form but would like to find out whether it is eligible for the grant should review the guidance below and complete the online COVID-19 Business Rates Grant Funding Scheme form.  This will enable us to validate your business information and verify your business bank details. Some information on the online form is mandatory (these fields are marked with a *) and grants will not be able to be processed without this information. Wherever possible, please provide all of the information requested as accurately as possible on the online form (even if it is not marked as mandatory) as it will help the council to make payments to eligible businesses and organisations as quickly as possible.

If you occupy and pay business rates for more than one property, please complete a separate COVID-19 Business Rates Grant Funding Scheme form per property as the grants are paid on an individual property basis.

Full information on the Government's cash grant schemes including eligibility is included below in Grant Funding Schemes - Cash Grants - Small Business Rate Relief businesses (£10,000) and Cash Grants - retail, hospitality and leisure (£25,000)

For businesses experiencing difficulties, please contact the city's Business Investment Team via [email protected] or on 0191 561 1194.  Team members will help signpost to government support and arrange detailed individual discussions with other colleagues or partner organisations where appropriate.