Advice for village halls and community buildings
UPDATE: Following the Government’s announcement that social gatherings will be limited to groups of six, here is the latest advice from ACRE
Village halls & community centres that were not hosting essential services were able to re-open from 4 July. Advice from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has been published: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-for-the-safe-use-of-multi-purpose-community-facilities/covid-19-guidance-for-the-safe-use-of-multi-purpose-community-facilities. ACRE have published Covid-19 Safer Community Centres, a free-to-use guide funded by Innovate UK that sets out clear stages of how to safely reopen community centres and village halls across the UK. Visual diagrams illustrate the spatial adaptations required for hiring and other essential services to recommence as safely as possible. You can also find an information sheet about re-opening from ACRE here.
The “Expanded Retail Discount Relief”, or extension of Business Rates relief, applies to charitable halls and CASCs, meaning that you should receive 100% rate relief this year. (In case of query by local authorities: Clause 7 and 12 (ii) of the Guidance collectively apply, the reference to the Local Govt Act 1988, section 47 is to their powers to grant discretionary relief. The Government will reimburse local authorities for the discretionary relief). The full guidance is here.
Information about the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant is available here. Your local authority will be able to advise about eligibility and how any grant money may be used. If your community hall is a live music venue then you may qualify for support from the Arts Council.
A new Covid-19 discretionary fund for small/micro businesses is available via local authorities to cover buildings or property costs for organisations with fewer than 50 employees, including charity properties getting charitable business rates relief, which are not eligible for small business rates relief or rural rate relief
Regarding cancellation of any bookings follow the steps in their hiring agreement and activities, contact your insurance company to discuss what may be covered under your insurance policy regarding cancellation of events.
If you are hosting a formal meeting, such as an AGM, NCVO has provided comprehensive advice.
Village Hall Insurance
Information from Norris & Fisher
We have received a number of enquiries as to whether Village Halls would be insured should they be forced to cancel activities or if hirers cancel their bookings owing to COVID-19. The Business Interruption cover under the policy would not provide cover for this type of loss so there is no insurance for loss of earnings. If there were to be a pandemic it would be beyond the capability of insurers to pay for such losses.
Information from Allied Westminster
Loss of revenue cover comes into force only after damage to property caused by an insured peril. It is designed to cover loss of income when the hall is closed for a period of time in order for repairs to be carried out. Unfortunately, if the hall has to be closed due to a breakout of the virus, no property damage has occurred so there is no business interruption cover in place. Property insurers would not cover closure due to pandemic.
Protecting Your Village/Community Hall at this time:
There are some considerations that should be kept in mind to protect their assets and people:
Risk assessments must be carried out on the changing risk/lack of supervision in place
Heating left ‘ticking-over’ but other critical services powered down if not required, unless to support protection or detection systems
All external areas must be clear of waste and combustible materials
Consider waste build-up and the controls needed if waste collection services are affected
All fire protection, detection, and security systems to remain active and monitored remotely where possible
Maintenance on all protection and/or detection systems (where in place) must be a priority to protect the property
All physical security and locking devices are working and in place
There are no leaking fluids or spills