'Cancel business rates until 2021 as sector recovers'

By Emily Hawkins contact

- Last updated on GMT

Recovery: Trade associations have called for business rates for hospitality to be cancelled until at least October 2021 in England (image: Getty/nickos)
Recovery: Trade associations have called for business rates for hospitality to be cancelled until at least October 2021 in England (image: Getty/nickos)

Related tags: lockdown, coronavirus, Legislation, Property, Business rates

Trade associations have called for business rates in England to be cancelled until at least October 2021 for hospitality businesses as they rebuild.

UKHospitality (UKH), the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) and the British Institute of Innkeeping (BII) claim a three month extension would give venues breathing room as restrictions ease.

After June, rates will not go back up to the standard rate but will be reduced by about 67% up to £2m for closed businesses with a lower cap for those who have been able to open, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced at the Budget.

If remaining legal restrictions on social contact are lifted from 21 June, as per the Government’s roadmap out of lockdown, then businesses will only have one trading week until they must pay the rates again.

Rocky road

The trio of trade bodies said the sector had a “long and rocky road to recovery" ahead, with many facing huge amounts of debt and sky-rocketing staff bills to keep up with fresh restrictions.

Members of the groups said in a CGA survey that they expected to reach just 56% of their pre-pandemic turnover when pubs reopen fully with the return of indoor trade from 17 May. 

A joint spokesperson for the trade bodies explained: “It is clear based on this that reopening pubs fully, indoors and outdoors, without restrictions, is going to be key to their survival.”

Members would only achieve 80% of their 2019 turnover when restrictions were eased in June, the trade bodies added. 

Edge of survival

A “vast majority” of members were also yet to receive payment for the Restart Grant scheme, the spokesperson added.

Local authorities were sent the money for the grants on 1 April but must carry out fraud checks.

“Their businesses are teetering on the edge of survival,” they said, “and they will now be facing their business rates becoming due on 1 July, with potentially only one full week of restriction free trading under their belts.”

Related topics: Property law

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