Information from Plymouth City Council
Plymouth City Council has announced details about new discretionary funding available to support businesses that are severely impacted by the third national lockdown.
The city has been allocated a total of £7.57 million to support local businesses through the Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG). More than £1.7 million has already been distributed to help businesses that struggled during the November lockdown.
The discretionary funding is intended to support businesses that cannot claim from the Local Restrictions Support Grant (LRSG) scheme, which gives grants to rate-paying businesses that have been forced to close due to the national restrictions.
Businesses may be eligible to apply for financial support through the ARG if they:
Due to the limited amount of funding available, the Council will prioritise the following types of businesses when distributing the grants:
The Council is prioritising in order to help as many businesses as possible, however it is likely that the Government funding may not meet the demands for help.
Applications for the new ARG will open at 10am on Monday 1 February. Businesses must complete a new application, even if they have received a discretionary grant during previous lockdowns.
In order to apply for a grant, businesses will need to meet the following criteria:
Businesses will not be eligible for funding if they have exceeded state subsidy limits or are in administration, insolvent or where a striking off order has been made. Certain types of businesses will also not be considered eligible, including ‘home sharing’ businesses, buy to let properties and premises that are used for personal use only (for example, riding stables).
The grants awarded are one-off payments intended to support businesses through the third national lockdown which started on 5 January 2021.
Businesses that do not pay rates will be eligible for a grant of £3,000.
Rate-paying businesses that have not been forced to close but are still significantly affected can claim the following grants:
Only one discretionary grant will be awarded to any business per lockdown, but if businesses operate from multiple Plymouth premises they may be eligible for additional payments.
The grants are intended to help with fixed business costs rather than to replace lost income, as there are other schemes offering this financial support. More information about these schemes can be found on the Invest Plymouth coronavirus business support page, or via the Heart of the South West Growth Hub.
A portion of the overall funding given to the Council will also be allocated to supporting wider economic development activity across the city and key city institutions that provide a significant economic benefit.
For more information about the ARG and LRSG grant schemes, including how to apply, please see: investplymouth.co.uk/business-grants.
Article by Community Energy Plus. For more information please contact Nicole Solomons on 01872 308930 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Introducing a new service from Community Energy Plus, designed to provide advice, support and guidance to private sector landlords working alongside their tenants. The aim of the Warmer Tenants Advice Service is to improve the energy efficiency of rented properties in Cornwall. Here, the advice team have put together a few Q&As to explain what the service aims to do and how they can help.
With so much information on various standards, rating systems, regulations and statutory obligations, it’s not surprising that many landlords feel confused and overwhelmed. We’re here to help landlords through the maze, find cost-effective ways to improve and maintain their property and to help landlords ensure their tenants are living in warm and healthy homes.
There’s so much information out there, I’m completely confused and just don’t have time to deal with it.
We understand. Our professionally trained advisors can help guide you through the maze of information and assist you with anything you don’t understand or need help with in improving the energy performance of your property. A problem shared, is a problem halved, as they say. The most difficult part of the process is deciding to do something about it.
I have asked for advice before – how are you different?
We’re a new service, helping to liaise between landlords and their tenants. We have a dedicated Landlords & Tenants Advisor who can help make the process much easier and by using our advice service, landlords can be assured of free and impartial advice to help them find solutions and available options in order to make cost-effective, energy efficient improvements to their property. Part of our service is to provide an advocacy service, speaking with both landlord and tenant to ensure the best outcome. This can be a combination of property visits and/or phone calls. We can liaise with tenants and other third parties, if appropriate, in order to secure grant funding. Landlords can be confident that not only can they meet regulations, but also secure existing and prospective tenancies by ensuring their tenants live in warmer homes.
Do you provide EPCs?
We do provide EPCs where a new EPC is needed as part of the process. In addition, we can also provide EPC modelling, which is a way of producing draft EPCs that show a selection of measures to increase your property’s EPC rating, so you can prioritise what to do and potential costs and savings.
I need to raise my property’s EPC rating to an E. How am I going to be able to afford this?
Part of the advice service is to help landlords gain access to grants in order to help pay for measures needed. For example, if you have an eligible tenant, we can help you access ECO grants, and we can give advice on the new Green Homes Grant which landlords are eligible to apply for. There is a maximum price cap that landlords have to spend on improving a property and if this is met, an exemption can then be applied for. There are other instances where exemptions can be applied for and we will be happy to advise on this process.
I have heard the minimum EPC rating may be raised to a C in a few years’ time. Is this true?
BEIS (the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) has just completed a consultation on whether to increase the minimum EPC rating to a C from 2025 for new tenancies and from 2028 for existing tenancies. If your property’s EPC rating is already D or E, then we can help you find ways to make the investment to move toward a low-carbon property, thus future-proofing your property to any new regulations.
Apart from meeting regulations, what’s the point of improving my property’s EPC rating?
Existing tenants should save money on their energy bills, which in turn could make them a more secure tenant with less chance of running into rent arrears. For prospective tenants, your property should look more attractive, as tenants would expect lower energy bills and a warm home in which to live.
Are there any special provisions for listed buildings or property in conservation areas?
There is no blanket exemption for historic buildings, listed buildings or buildings within a conservation area from requiring an EPC and in the majority of cases an EPC will be required. Protected buildings will only be exempt if compliance with the minimum energy efficiency requirements would unacceptably alter their character or appearance and the owner can provide evidence of this. Even if a building is protected it is likely that it may still be possible to make some improvements without altering its character or appearance and advice should be sought to confirm this. The
onus is on the owner of the property to understand which works may or may not be permitted. A property owner can contact the Planning Service at Cornwall Council to provide evidence in relation to the likelihood of obtaining planning permission or listed building consent for energy efficiency improvements through the Planning Service page.
Where can you get additional information?
For more information from Community Energy Plus: https://www.cep.org.uk/ourservices/warmer-tenants-advice-service-for-landlords/
Community Energy Plus
35 River Street
01872 245566 / 0800 954 1956
Freephone advice line
0800 954 1956
An update on business grants by Plymouth City Council.
Updated 21 January 2021
Plymouth City Council can confirm that the first tranche of businesses will have received an email on Thursday 21 January providing details of their automatic grant payment.
We have identified a number of businesses who we believe to be eligible, but require additional checks before automated payment can be confirmed.
If you received a November lockdown LRSG grant for your business, and do not receive an email from Plymouth City Council, we hope to be in touch with you within the next working week to check or confirm details with you.
Tier 3 and Lockdown Business Grants
Updated 19 January 2021
Plymouth City Council has been given a further £20.3 million to distribute in grants to support businesses during the third national lockdown.
We are working hard to get this money out as quickly as possible and to make the process simple for businesses.
Grants are currently available for businesses that pay business rates and are legally required to close during Tier 3 and the national lockdown. If you do not meet these requirements you may be eligible for discretionary funding and more information about this will be available soon.
If you have already applied for the November lockdown grant (Local Restrictions Grant Scheme (LRSG) Closed), you do not need to reapply. You should receive a confirmation email from Plymouth City Council detailing the amount of your grant payment, the scheme that your grant is from and the expected payment date.
We have received applications from approximately 60 per cent of eligible businesses, which means around 40 per cent of eligible Plymouth businesses have not applied. If you haven’t already, we would urge you to complete an application as soon as possible. Please note that we are only able to automatically pay those who successfully applied for the second November lockdown grant. This does not include businesses that received grants during the first national lockdown if they have not applied for the second lockdown funding.
If you have not applied for the November lockdown grant, you will need to complete an application form on the Council website. You will then receive all the funding you are eligible for.
Plymouth was in Tier 3 for five days, from 31 December to 4 January, and eligible businesses are entitled to a pro-rata grant payment for this period.
Lockdown business grants:
Plymouth, along with the rest of the country, entered a national lockdown on 5 January 2021. Businesses required to close and which pay business rates are eligible for the following financial support:
Local Restrictions Grant Scheme (Closed) addendum:
Eligible businesses required to close due to the national lockdown will be entitled to receive the following grants to cover the entire 42 day initial lockdown period (5 January to 15 February):
Closed Business Lockdown Payment:
This is a one-off payment for eligible rate paying businesses that have been required to close by the Government. Payments are calculated based on rateable value:
Additional Restrictions Grant:
If you are not eligible for the above schemes, you may be entitled to discretionary funding.
Applications for the Additional Restrictions Grant covering the November lockdown closed Thursday 21 January and all existing applications will be processed.
A new discretionary scheme will be launched in the coming weeks, with updated eligibility criteria, and we will share more details as soon as possible.
For businesses who haven’t previously applied for grant support:
If you pay business rates and were legally required to close during the November lockdown but have not yet applied for your November grant, you will not receive automatic payment of the new grants.
Please complete the application form on the Plymouth City Council website as soon as possible.
Applications for the LRSG Closed and Closed Business Lockdown Payment scheme will close on 31 March 2021, with final payments being made by 30 April 2021.
If you believe you are eligible and have applied for a November LRSG grant but do not receive an email from Plymouth City Council by Friday 29 January to confirm an automatic payment, please email email@example.com or call the helpline on 01752 308984 which will be open Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm.
Please note, all the information found on the page below is about grants for businesses that pay rates directly to Plymouth City Council and which are legally required to close during tiered restrictions and the current national lockdown.
If this criteria does not apply to you, you may be eligible for discretionary funding through the Additional Restrictions Grant and more information will be available in the coming weeks.
Visit the FAQs for rate-paying businesses page.
For business grant information from other local authorities, please check their websites for further information.
The Government is failing to tackle the Covid rent debt crisis.
Following the announcement of a 6 week extension on the eviction ban in England until 21st February 2021, there has still been no sign of a financial package of help for landlords whose tenants are struggling to pay rent. Or for tenants who cannot afford to pay their rent.
A comprehensive financial package is needed, to allow tenants to continue to pay their rent without building unmanageable debt.
SWLA are on the Independent Advisory Board panel along with other large landlord associations in England. We represent our members at national level and are working hard to encourage the Government to look at providing financial help to save tenancies and prevent huge debt.
We regularly write to MPs within the South West with difficulties that landlords face, our MP Panel members assist us in reaching every MP for maximum effect.
Ben Beadle, NRLA chief executive says: “The repossessions ban is a sticking plaster that will ultimately lead to more people losing their homes. It means tenants’ debts will continue to mount to the point where they have no hope of paying them off leading eventually to them having to leave their home.
“Instead the Government should recognise the crisis facing many tenants and take immediate action to enable them to pay their debts as is happening in Scotland and Wales. The objective should be to sustain tenancies in the long term and not just the short term.”
This week Steve Lees, SWLA chair attended a Federation of Small Businesses online meeting with Ben Bradshaw MP (Exeter). Steve highlighted the Welsh ‘Tenancy Saver Loan Scheme’. The loan can be repaid over 5 years at an interest rate of 1% APR. More information onthe scheme in Wales can be read here; https://gov.wales/scheme-help-tenants-affected-coronavirus-launches-wales
And the Scottish Tenant Hardship Loan Fund information can be read here; https://www.gov.scot/news/increased-support-for-tenants/#:~:text=The%20Tenant%20Hardship%20Loan%20Fund,in%20response%20to%20the%20pandemic.
You can get involved by writing to your MP, calling for the Government to take action, and share the message through your social media channels.
The Government’s new Breathing Space period will freeze interest, fees and enforcement for people in problem debt, with further protections for those in mental health crisis treatment.
The scheme will ban banks and landlords from chasing tenants for unpaid debts, by offering them a period of time to try to find a solution to their financial problems. It will impact on landlords – particularly those seeking possession due to arrears.
The Debt Respite Scheme (also known as Breathing Space) will come into force in May 4.
There are two types of breathing space that a tenant may enter into:
Both types of breathing space operate in a similar way. Creditors are not allowed to contact them directly to request payment of the debt, or take enforcement action to recover the debt (including by taking possession of a property).
However, the duration and frequency of the breathing spaces vary. A ‘standard’ arrangement will last for a maximum of 60 days, for a mental health crisis breathing space, the Breathing Space ends 30 days after the tenant’s treatment ends.
Local authorities providing debt advice and FCA approved debt advisors can grant Breathing Spaces to people in debt – they would be expected to speak to them the establish whether this is the best thing for them.
Millions of people with problem debt, including those facing mental health problems, will be helped by the government to get their finances under control.
A 60-day breathing space period will see enforcement action from creditors halted and interest frozen for people with problem debt. During this period, individuals will receive professional debt advice to find a long-term solution to their financial difficulties.
As well as this, those receiving mental health crisis treatment will receive the same protections until their treatment is complete, in acknowledgement of the clear impact problem debt can have on wellbeing.
The impact assessment for breathing space, published today, forecasts that it will help over 700,000 people across the UK get professional help in its first year, increasing up to 1.2 million a year by the tenth year of operation.
For further information see; https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/debt-respite-scheme-breathing-space-guidance
We intend to recommence training next month via zoom.
We are looking to start with 2 hour sessions on 1. Possession and 2. Compliance. We will run both courses twice, once daytime and once evening. Dates to be confirmed. If you are interested in either course register with the office.
We will also be running the first accreditation course via zoom so again if you are interested, register with the office.
Right to rent checks continue in the same way as now until 30 June 2021 for citizens of the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein.
Continue checking their passport or national identity card as before. For family members of EU, EEA or Swiss citizens, follow the usual guidance for documents you can accept for right to rent checks.
It’s against the law to ask EU, EEA or Swiss citizens to show that they have settled status or pre-settled status when starting a new tenancy.
You will not need to make retrospective checks for existing tenants from 2021.
In June 2021 , new guidance will be published covering how landlords can perform right to rent checks for EEA nationals.
The Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented
Sector (England) Regulations 2020
These Regulations apply in England to –
**note, if a pre 01 July 2020 tenancy rolls onto a statutory periodic tenancy after 01 July 2020, the Regulations will apply**
Here are a few frequently asked questions & answers from NICEIC & ELECSA;
HAS COVID-19 PROMPTED A CHANGE TO THE PRS LEGISLATION?
No, It is important to note that PRS legislation and timings have not changed. Full details on the regulations, including information relating to the steps landlords, can take if they cannot find an inspector or if they are unable to gain access to a property in normal circumstances can be viewed here; Guide for landlords: electrical safety standards in the private rented sector – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
WHAT ACTION WILL BE TAKEN IF LANDLORDS AND INSPECTORS ARE UNABLE TO COMPLY DUE TO COVID-19 ACCESS ISSUES?
While the regulation and the schedule hasn’t changed, MHCLG issued COVID-19 specific guidance for landlord, tenants and local authorities. Encouraging local authorities to take a pragmatic, risk-based and common-sense approach to enforcement during COVID-19 the advice outlines reasonable steps landlords should take in the interim period.
A topline summary of this updated guidance and how it relates to PRS electrical safety checks is shown below:
• A landlord is not in breach of their duty to comply with a remedial notice if they can show they have taken all reasonable steps to comply.
• A landlord could show reasonable steps by keeping copies of all communications they have had with tenants and electricians as they attempt to make arrangements to carry out the work, including any replies
• Landlords may also wish to provide other evidence which shows the electrical installation is in a good condition while they attempt to arrange works. This could include the servicing record and previous condition reports.
• A landlord who has been prevented from accessing the premises will not be required to begin legal proceedings against their tenant to show that all reasonable steps have been taken to comply with their duties.
Landlords of privately rented accommodation must:
To view the full COVID-19 and renting: guidance for landlords, tenants and local authorities document, please see; Guidance for landlords and tenants – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
Please see the SWLA trade listing for local electricians; https://www.landlordssouthwest.co.uk/tradelistings/electricians-pat-electrical-services/
Or search the following;
Information from gov.uk and NICEIC & ELECSA (electrical governing bodies)
The ban on bailiff enforced evictions has been extended.
Renters will continue to be supported during the new national restrictions, with an extension to the ban on bailiff evictions for all but the most egregious cases for at least 6 weeks – until at least 21 February – with measures kept under review.
Court rules and procedures introduced in September to support both tenants and landlords will remain in place and regularly reviewed. The courts will continue to prioritise cases, such as those involving anti-social behaviour, illegal occupation and perpetrators of domestic abuse in the social sector.
Landlords continue to be required to give 6-month notice periods to tenants until at least 31 March except in the most serious circumstances.
The government has changed the law in England to ensure bailiffs do not enforce evictions for 6 weeks until 22 February, with no evictions expected to 8 March at the earliest. This will be kept under review.
The only exceptions to this are for the most egregious cases – anti-social behaviour, illegal occupation, death of a tenant where the property is unoccupied, fraud, perpetrators of domestic abuse in social housing and extreme rent arrears equivalent to 6 months’ rent.
Guidance to support landlords and tenants in the social and private rented sectors understand the possession action process and new rules within the court system in England and Wales is available.
For those renters who require additional support, there is an existing £180 million of government funding for Discretionary Housing Payments for councils to distribute to support renters with housing costs.
Our office remains open as normal for telephone and email queries (office hours 10am – 3pm Monday to Friday). If you call outside of these hours, please leave a message.
We are closed for visitors to help keep members and staff as safe as possible.
Take care, from the SWLA staff and committee.
The following guidance should be followed immediately; the law will be updated to reflect these new rules;
You must not leave, or be outside of your home except where necessary (see above guidance for further information on what you can and cannot do).
Landlords, you may leave home to fulfil legal obligations or to carry out activities related to buying, selling, letting or renting a residential property.