The owner of a company which sells confectioneries at festivals has been told to close down and claim universal credit as she is not eligible for business rate relief.

Michelle Baker, who runs Flo and Frankie’s Fudge with her son, followed the advice of her accountant who gave me the number of the ‘government business hotline’ to discuss what you would be entitled to during the current pandemic.

However, because she runs her business from home, she was told she is entitled to nothing.

Michelle said: “I was on hold for an hour, then told that because I do not have a premises eligible for business rate relief I cannot claim anything and they are recommending ‘businesses like ours’ to close down and claim universal credit.

“We have another month and a half money left for our rent, which currently nothing has been done about.”

“I just feel the government are saying they want to help but traders in the events industry are being forgotten and receiving no help.”

The government announced on Tuesday that £330bn worth of loans will be made available to provide financial support for businesses during the current coronavirus outbreak.

According to the GOV.UK website, businesses can apply for small business rate relief if their property’s rateable value is less than £15,000 or their business only uses one property.

Businesses owners would not usually have to pay business rates for home-based businesses if they use a small part of their home for your business, for example if you use a bedroom as an office, or sell goods by post.

However firms may need to pay business rates as well as Council Tax if their property is part business and part domestic, they sell goods or services to people who visit their property, they employ other people to work at their property or have made changes to your home for your business.

Universal credit is a monthly payment to help with your living costs for those on a low income or out of work.

According to the money advise service, a basic allowance would be £317.82 per month for a single claimants aged 25 or over.

Michelle has traded at events such as Christchurch Food Festival, Highcliffe Food Festival and Shake and Stir in the past.

All event organisers have been accommodating in providing refunds or carrying payments over to next year.

She has contacted her local MPs, receiving a reply from MP Michael Tomlinson, who said: “I will certainly ensure that this point is made, and you will not be alone in this position.”

Councillor Vikki Slade, Leader of BCP Council, said:“We sympathise with the difficulties faced by businesses and self-employed individuals in this situation. The Government has put a number of support mechanisms in place for small businesses but we are aware that those measures don’t cover every circumstance.”

“This needs to be addressed and I have been personally lobbying our MPs to ensure that those who are self-employed and businesses who do not have premises are not forgotten. We understand that the Chancellor will be making further announcements on this topic soon and we will share these as soon as they are released.

“We would urge businesses to visit the government’s new website for more information and the FAQ section in particular. We would also advise them to view the regularly updated coronavirus section on, sign up for our newsletters and follow our @Business_BCP Twitter account for the latest news.”