Treasury signals rates relief

By Nikkie Thatcher

- Last updated on GMT

Estimated cost: real estate adviser Altus Group worked out the business rates holiday for this financial year amounted to more than £10bn
Estimated cost: real estate adviser Altus Group worked out the business rates holiday for this financial year amounted to more than £10bn

Related tags Business rates Government Finance Treasury Chancellor

Councils have been urged not to issue business rates bills ahead of the new financial year on 1 April, until after the Budget on 3 March.

This suggests the Chancellor could be announcing further support for commercial properties, according to real estate advisor Altus Group.

Usually, as billing authorities, councils would start issuing and sending out yearly business rates bills this month (February) ahead of the new financial year on 1 April.

According to Altus Group, Treasury financial secretary Jesse Norman said councils should “consider issuing business rates bills after the Chancellor has set out his plan at the Budget”, adding “it is in the public interest to avoid any potential confusion for businesses and to avoid the cost of having to re-bill businesses in light of any measures that may be included in the Budget”.

Holiday cost

The real estate advisor estimated the business rates holiday, which ran for the current financial year (1 April 2020 to 31 March 2021) to be worth £10.13bn.

Altus Group UK president Robert Hayton said: “If the end of the pandemic is indeed in sight, it has never been more important now to ensure viable businesses are supported adequately during these final months.

“The Chancellor has to avoid a cliff-edge through withdrawing reliefs too early but he also cannot risk repeating the mistakes of the past where support was arbitrary rather than targeted to those most in need.”

The Morning Advertiser ​has contacted the Treasury but had not received a response at the time of publication.

Trade body UKHospitality has repeatedly called for the Government to extend the business rates holiday​ alongside a continuation of the VAT cut for soft drinks, food and accommodation ahead of the Budget.

Battling for survival

Chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “Put simply, hospitality is battling for survival. Our sector has been the hardest hit sector by the pandemic and is staring into the abyss. But if the right conditions and support are put in place, we could be justifiably optimistic of the future role hospitality can play in returning the country to growth and boosting employment.

“The VAT cut and business rates holiday were two key measures that Government correctly identified in 2020 that would stimulate economic activity and assist businesses.

“With subsequent lockdowns and restrictions many in hospitality have been unable to recoup the intended benefits. Extending these measures would act as a critical revival system – saving many jobs and setting up the economy for much need job creation for the rest of the year.”

Business rates are devolved among the nations and Scotland has already revealed relief for non-domestic rates will be continued for an initial three months​, funded by money reimbursed by supermarkets.

Scotland Finance Secretary Kate Forbes pledged the extension before adding elongating the relief further would need funding from the UK Government.

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