April 4th 2020, by Calvin Cooper

This week the government announced welcome changes to the Business Support Fund (BSF), which initially excluded self catering businesses.

The sector understandably felt very hard done by when the BSF was first accounced, as it had specifically excluded them from qualifying for this scheme.

Do I qualify?

The main conditions which were previously confirmed will still stand, when assessing eligibility, but there are also now additional criteria to assess the eligibility of self catering businesses. The full conditions you must meet are:

  1. Do you qualify for either Small Business Bonus Scheme relief or Rural Relief, i.e. do you fill out a form with the council each year, which confirms that you do not have to pay business rates?

  2. Is the self catering income a 'primary source' of income for you, i.e. is it more than one third of your total income?

  3. And, was the property let out for more than 140 days in the 2019/20 tax year (which ends tomorrow, 5 April 2020)?

If you can answer yes to all of these questions, then you should qualify.

How do I evidence my claim?

We consider this for each of the above questions:

  1. You should have a rates reference number, and a letter from your local authority confirming that you don't have to pay rates for the year.
  2. Your tax return will show your total income, and at least 1/3 of this must come from your self catering business. Note, long term property lets (i.e. renting to the same person for 30-days or more at any one time) are likley to be considered separately, and will not count towards this.
  3. A copy of your booking calendar, or reports fromAirBnB/Booking.com showing your rental days should be suffice.

When, and how, can I claim?

The 2019/20 tax year ends on 5 April 2020, and tax returns will be able to be prepared any time from then. This will allow you to have the necessary evidence ready for the application.

Applications for the BSF can then be made through your local authority - find yours here - and the application window remains open until 31 March 2021.

Local authorities are aiming to achieve a 10 working-day turnaround on processing of claims, so this should give a very welcome cash boost relatively quickly!

I still don't qualify. What's next?

The Association of Scotland's Self Caterers (ASSC) are continuing to lobby the government to made further adjustments to this claim, so that it includes even more self catering businesses.

We'll be sure to keep you all posted as and when any further announcements are made!

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CRC Accountancy
4 Soulisquoy Loan, Kirkwall, Orkney, KW15 1BY