National lockdown – what it means for community halls and centres
New national lockdown with effect from Thursday 5 November
A second England-wide lockdown period started on Thursday 5 November and is scheduled to end 28 days later at the end of Wednesday 2 December. ACRE released guidance for community buildings on 5 November and updated this guidance on 11 November. You can download the updated guidance from the link below:
Section 1 now includes a note on financial support for community buildings, section 2 addresses questions that have arisen regarding permitted activities, and section 3 contains the relevant legislation (this was previously in section 2).
Financial support – furlough and premises grants
The furlough scheme has been extended until the end of March and there is financial support for businesses affected by the new lockdown.
14 NOV UPDATE – According to this Government guidance page, community centres and halls are considered to have been forced to close, even though they can continue to host certain limited activities. We believe this means you will be eligible for support from your district / borough council through the Local Restrictions Support Grant (Closed) Addendum, as long as you meet the other criteria. East Hampshire District, Fareham Borough, and Havant Borough Councils have all confirmed that this is their understanding. Please email Kevin Sawers or call 01962 857358 if any other local authorities disagree with this view.
We note the above guidance says one of the eligibility conditions is that the organisation ‘occupies property on which it pays business rates (and is the ratepayer)’. We expect (and hope!) this doesn’t mean to exclude organisations that are in the rate-paying system but don’t actually pay any business rates. That’s how the Retail, Hospitality, and Leisure grant worked anyway – you were eligible if your premises were registered with your local council for business rates, even if they used the power all councils have to exempt charities from actually paying business rates.
Discretionary support is also available for organisations that can’t apply for the LRSG grant described above. This will be of interest to organisations like churches that own (or lease) places of worship – such buildings are not in the rate-paying system at all and so (we believe) will not be eligible for the LRSG grant.
This discretionary support is being offered through the Additional Restrictions Grant – also delivered through district / borough or unitary authorities. Please see the guidance and make it clear to your council that your organisation was viable before the pandemic but needs their support to get through the coming weeks.
With all these schemes, do let us know how you get on – please email Kevin Sawers or call 01962 857358.
For your information, here is the Government’s guidance for local councils regarding both these schemes:
Our main page of guidance on the covid-19 restrictions is here. There will, no doubt, continue to be many restrictions and procedures to follow after the end of this lockdown period, so we will revert back to that main guidance page then. For now, this page you are reading now is the page to follow.