Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government
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Eric Pickles: Tax relief and funding now available to help our high streets get back to business
Councils affected by recent rioting can immediately apply for money from a new multi-million pound fund, Communities Secretary Eric Pickles has announced. The measures include tax relief on council tax and business rates to help local shops and residents get back on their feet.
In a letter to council leaders, Mr Pickles has given details of how councils can apply for the money and what the funding can be used for. He also pledged that the process would be quick and simple, with a minimum of red tape, and the money will be transferred quickly from central government to where it's needed.
The one-off funding package will help rebuild communities, open up shops and repair buildings which were damaged, make sure people who lost their homes are re-housed, and help councils get their areas get back to business. It will also help fund local council tax relief for residents whose homes have been damaged, and business rate relief for local firms and local shops.
A £10 million Recovery Scheme is assisting councils with the immediate costs of making their areas safe and clean again, and a £20 million High Street Support Scheme is giving grants to local firms affected by the riots for out-of-pocket expenses. Both funds are now open for bids from local authorities. Councils can spend immediately in their areas, and reclaim the money from central government. These schemes are in addition to the existing Bellwin Scheme, and not subject to any minimum threshold.
Individuals, homeowners and local firms can also claim compensation for property damage under the Riot Damages Act, and the Government is extending the period for claims to 42 days. This will help provide support for uninsured buildings.
The Government will meet councils' immediate costs for helping people who have had to leave their home as a result of the rioting. Homelessness advisers from the Department have been working closely with the areas affected by the riots and the councils now claim this funding back from the Department for Communities and Local Government.
The Department has unveiled details of plans to ensure that landlords can take action against tenants who wreck communities beyond the immediate neighbourhood of their home. A consultation has now been launched on allowing landlords to seek to evict tenants convicted of the sort of criminality seen in the recent rioting - wherever that criminality occurs. The consultation also proposes to speed up the process for evicting offenders.
As well as providing immediate support for the recovery from the riots, the Department for Communities and Local Government will lead cross-Government work in the longer term to improve integration and secure economic recovery and regeneration in areas which have fallen behind.
Eric Pickles, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, said:
"The Government is giving a helping hand to our high streets, and getting them back to business. I also encourage local residents to do their bit, by supporting local shops with their custom.
"We're ensuring councils have the backing and financial support they need to get local firms and local communities in their area get back on their feet. There is immediate funding now available, including relief from paying council tax and business rates for those badly affected."
Business Secretary Vince Cable said:
"We want to do all we can to help those affected. I and my colleagues have been out meeting those who have lost their livelihoods and listening to the problems these businesses face.
"The High Street Support Scheme is designed to get individual businesses and communities back on their feet quickly, targeting the specific streets where businesses and households suffered most as a result of the disturbances. I'd encourage any small business affected by the disturbances to contact their local authority and make the most of the assistance available."
Notes for editors
1. The initial announcement press notice is at: www.communities.gov.uk/news/newsroom/1964311.
2. The funding is available to local authorities affected by the disturbances between 6 and 11 August 2011.
3. The £10 million Recovery Scheme is funded by the Department for Communities and Local Government (£6 million) and Her Majesty's Treasury (£4 million). The £20 million High Street Support Scheme is funded by the Department for Communities and Local Government (£7 million), Department for Business Innovation and Skills (£7m) and Her Majesty's Treasury (£6 million).
4. The Recovery Scheme provides grants to local authorities to help them with the clean up costs. The period allowed for the clean up expenditure is until 5 October 2011, with claims needing to reach the Department for Communities and Local Government by 7 November 2011. Expenditure must have been incurred by a local authority taking action to safeguard life or property or to prevent suffering or severe inconvenience in the community as a direct result of the riots. Normal salary or wages, or capital and insurable costs will not be eligible.
5. The £20 million High Street Support Scheme is available to councils to provide grants to local businesses to alleviate specifically the impact of the recent widespread public disorder on affected businesses. Local authorities are required to submit applications for the total anticipated costs of the scheme by 7 November 2011, with supporting documentation. Local authorities will have discretion on the maximum payments to individual businesses with funding from the scheme. The Scheme will help fund the cost of hardship business rate that would be normally borne by local authorities (25 per cent of the cost). In addition to the Scheme, the remaining 75 per cent will also be funded by central government.
6. Small businesses can also claim grants from the High Street Support Scheme for the costs of the business recovery not covered by their insurance or the Riot Damages Act. This may include things like emergency repairs, replacement of essential assets, security measures, and marketing to show potential customers that they are 'open for business'.
7. In addition, any individual, homeowner or small business that has suffered damage to or loss of their buildings or property as a result of rioting, can seek compensation under the Riot Damages Act. Importantly this compensation is paid to the uninsured too. It is normally the case that claims must be received within 14 days, but to give people more time to submit these claims we will extend the period to 42 days. We will urge the police to respond helpfully and swiftly to all legitimate claims, and the Government is working closely with forces, to ensure they have the funds they need to meet the costs of the operation itself and any claims that they may receive under the Riot Damages Act.
8. The Recovery Scheme and the High Street Support Scheme are in addition to the long-standing Bellwin Scheme, which can compensate local authorities for extraordinary costs above a set threshold. Unlike Bellwin, the two schemes being rolled out are not subject to any minimum threshold.
9. Applications for re-housing costs must be received by 30 November 2011. The maximum payment to individual households is limited to £5,000, although discretion will be applied where exceptional costs have been incurred. The funding will be provided through the existing homelessness funding mechanism.
10. The new consultation on anti-social behaviour in social housing can be found at: www.communities.gov.uk/publications/housing/antisocialbehaviourconsult.
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