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Guidance for equestrian businesses

British Equestrian would like to thank the equestrian community for their current support during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. These are unprecedented times for society in general and we all need to play a part in helping to manage and restrict the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). The current Government restrictions mean that some equestrian businesses are unable to run as normal or must close their doors and we recognise that this has far-reaching implications, and that businesses and individuals will be hit financially. The UK Government has announced an initial £330 billion of help through number of measures to help, which we’ve summarised as a guide to help those in need access the assistance available.


For all UK businesses, there is support through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme where all employers can access support to continue to pay part of their employees’ salaries for those who would have otherwise been laid off during this crisis. On 20 March, the following measures were announced/expanded upon:

  • A Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to cover up to 80% of wage costs up to a cap of £2,500 per month, backdated to 1 March, for small businesses, charities and not-for-profit organisations.
    • The scheme will close to new entrants on 30 June 2020. From this point, employers will only be able to furlough staff who have already been furloughed for a full three-week period prior to 30 June. This means that the final date that an employee can be furloughed for the first time is 10 June, and employers will then have until 31 July to make any claims. 
    • From 1 July 2020, businesses will be given the flexibility to bring furloughed employees back part-time. Individual firms will decide the hours and shift patterns their employees will work on their return, and will be responsible for paying their wages for hours worked. 
    • The Chancellor has recently confirmed that the Coronavirus scheme will run until October, but businesses must start to share the cost from August. Find out more here.
    • For further information about the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, click here.
  • The Corona Business Interruption Loan Scheme is now be available to SMEs for loans up to £5M and will now be interest-free for 12 months (previously 6 months) – more info and how to apply is available here.
  •  Deferring the next quarter of VAT through to the end of June (those payments can now be paid at the end of the financial year)
  • Statutory Sick Pay relief package for small or medium-size businesses who are paying sick pay to employees off due to COVID-19
  • HMRC Time To Pay arrangements can be put in for a time-limited deferral period

On 27 April, the Government announced the Bounce Back Loans scheme, which will provide loans of up to £50,000 to help bolster the existing package of support available to the smallest businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic. The Government will provide lenders with a 100% guarantee for the loan, and pay any fees and interest for the first 12 months. No repayments will be due during the first 12 months. Further details can be found here.

Riding schools, livery yards and competition centres

We have had confirmation from the Sport and Recreation Alliance that riding schools, livery yards and competition centres fall under the umbrella of those businesses considered to be ‘for assembly and leisure’ – provided they are normally open to the public – and as such are eligible for the help currently on offer from the Government:

  •  100% business rates relief for the year 2020/21
  •  Businesses in these sectors with a rateable value of under £15,000 will receive a grant of £10,000
  •  Businesses in these sectors with a rateable value of between £15,001 and £51,000 will receive a grant of £25,000

Business rates and cash grants


  • Expanding the 100% business rates holiday for the next 12 months to cover all retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in England – not just those up to £51K rateable value
  • Providing a £25,000 cash grant to retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in smaller premises, with a rateable value below £51K
  • Increasing the proposed £3,000 cash grant to a £10,000 cash grant for 700,000 small businesses (those eligible for Small Business Rate Relief). [N.B. Potentially, this will also apply for those eligible for rural rates relief]


  • 100% relief rates holiday for businesses in hospitality, leisure and retail for a period of 12 months. Grants will also available for Scottish companies in this sector
  • A £25,000 grant for businesses in hospitality, leisure and retail with a rateable value between £18,000 and £51,000
  • Small firms receiving the small business bonus or rural relief will be eligible for a £10,000 grant. Businesses will be also be able to request to defer all payment
  • All non-domestic properties will get 1.6% relief, reversing the poundage change

You can find additional details on the Scottish Government’s package of reliefs and grants here.

Northern Ireland

  • A three-month rates holiday for all businesses, which effectively means a further 25% discount off your bill
  • The issuing of rates bills will be deferred from April until June
  • Small firms who are eligible for the Small Business Rate Relief Scheme will receive a £10,000 grant
  • A £25,000 grant to companies in the hospitality, tourism and retail sectors with a rateable value from £15,000 to £51,000


  • A 12-month rates relief for businesses in retail, leisure and hospitality
  • A £25,000 grant for retail, leisure and hospitality businesses with a rateable value of between £12,000 and £51,000
  • Shops and leisure and hospitality businesses with a rateable value of £51,000 or less will receive 100% business rates relief, administered through their local authority
  • Firms eligible for Small Business Rates Relief with a rateable value of £12,000 or less will receive a £10,000 grant

You can find additional details online on the Business Wales website.

If you can’t find your rateable value, you can search for it using your postcode on GOV.UK.

The Equestrian Employers Association has further advice on equine businesses and their employees.


For both businesses and individuals, the HMRC has set up a dedicated COVID-19 helpline to help those in need on 0800 0159 559, in addition to other HMRC phone contact numbers. Opening hours are 8am to 8pm on Monday to Friday, and 8am to 4pm on Saturday.