Market Insight

Action needed as business rates relief package still not up and running

June 28, 2017
Headshot photo of Simon Moffatt

Following a huge amount of political pressure, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, announced a £300 million business rates relief package in the Spring Budget.

However, three months on from many businesses being hit by a sharp rise in their business rates bills, and still nothing has been set up.

Half a million companies started paying higher business rates from the start of April, with some facing increases of up to 50 per cent.

Not only that, despite the government’s rates relief pledge, business rate bills were issued for the full amount and businesses are now being chased for payment.

Experts have claimed that, despite a promise that the worst affected businesses would be helped, not a single penny has yet been passed on to those businesses that need it.

The Government doesn’t deny the claim, and it would appear that they are handing over blame to the Councils, saying that it’s now a matter for them.

In turn, Councils are blaming a lack of government guidance on how to distribute the funds.

The way the relief package has been set up means that Councils are responsible for handing out the money, and can choose who should receive it.

Local authorities have known what their fund allocation was going to be since April, but are unsure how to implement it.

Not only that, despite the Chancellor’s pledge to cap rate increases for small businesses, local councils are reluctant to recalculate business rates bills, for fear that Government may not reimburse the difference.

Whoever is to blame, there needs to be action – and as quickly as possible.

Councils need to get cracking, and implement their discretionary rate relief schemes for 2017/18, and Government needs to provide the clarity that local authorities need, so that our struggling small business community can keep their heads above water.

If you would like help or advice in relation to your business rates liabilities, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our team of expert business rates advisers.