Rates relief

Government list shines light on progress for pubs rates relief

By Claire Churchard contact

- Last updated on GMT

Money owed: Councils need to increase their efforts to distribute pub rates relief
Money owed: Councils need to increase their efforts to distribute pub rates relief

Related tags: Local authorities, Business, Taxation in the united kingdom

Pubs still waiting for business rates relief can now check if their council has started distributing the money as the Government has published a progress list.

Published on the Department for Communities & Local Government (DCLG) website, the list​ shows which councils have begun “rebilling”, or delivering the financial support, for the three business rate relief schemes: support for pubs; supporting small businesses; and the discretionary scheme.

The Government’s move will help pubs identify which local authorities have failed to start delivering funds as well as those that have, but which licensees may not be aware of.

Name and shame

For example, Hertsmere, Sheffield and West Lancashire councils had not confirmed that they had started “rebilling” for the pub specific scheme when the MA published this story. Although the DCLG said it would update the list as councils updated them on their progress.  

The list has been welcomed by the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA), which praised the DCLG for taking a “tough approach” by naming councils that are failing to distribute rates relief.

BBPA said the list initiative is a response to the slow progress of many local authorities to hand over rates relief money to eligible businesses. To help pubs access the money they are owed, the BBPA has drawn up a template letter for pubs to use free of charge to contact their council. It is available on the BBPA website.

Step up efforts

BBPA chief executive Brigid Simmonds said: “Given the reports we have been receiving about delays, I really welcome the Government stepping up efforts to ensure that much-needed rates relief is reaching pubs and other small businesses most in need, as the Government intended. I hope also that pubs will make use of the letter we have produced today to help them claim their reliefs.

“Delays from local councils are inexcusable. If some councils can get their rates relief fully up-and-running, all should be able to do the same. For those that have begun rebilling, the process of getting the reliefs to pubs needs to be sorted out as quickly as possible.” 

Are you getting what you’re entitled to?

The three support schemes explained:

  • a scheme to cap the annual bill increase for any ratepayer losing small business rate relief or rural rate relief as a result of the revaluation
  • a £300m fund for local authorities to distribute over four years to help hard-pressed businesses facing higher business rates bills
  • a £1,000 discount to pubs with a rateable value of less than £100,000

Speaking to the Morning Advertiser​ about the problems of delayed rates relief for pubs earlier this week, Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “Government figures show that just under half of local authorities have put in place a scheme to deliver the £300m discretionary relief and to deliver pubs specific relief. This is six months on from when the Government gave them the money. In a lot of cases, the local authorities say they’ve got a scheme but you have to apply for it and they don’t tell you how to apply. And many people don’t realise they have to apply for it. The money is not getting through to the people who desperately need it."

Yesterday an alliance of eight leading pub-industry groups wrote an open letter to the Chancellor​ of the Exchequer urging him to support pubs by extending and increasing the pub-specific rates relief beyond this year and setting out a timetable for major reform of the business rates system. It also called for the Government to implement at least a freeze in beer duty for the duration of the Parliament.

The BBPA has also called for the £1,000 rates relief for pubs to be raised to £5,000 and to be extended.

Related topics: Legislation

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