Government attempts to fix “shambolic” delay in business rate relief

In March, small businesses were promised financial support to help with rising business rates - though many are still waiting for this reduction from their bill

The government has stepped up attempts to fix the “shambolic” delay in implementing business rate relief, as many business owners still haven’t seen a reduction in their bills.

Calling the main software providers, Capita, Civica and Northgate Public Services into SW1, local government minister Marcus Jones has given the trio a deadline of 21 August to provide councils with updated software to help them issue new bills to affected businesses.

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) have described the delay as “shambolic”.

Business rates are a tax on properties that people may run an enterprise from, such as offices, shops, pubs, warehouses, factories and guest homes.

If you use a building, or even half a building, for non-domestic purposes, then the likelihood is that you will have to pay business rates.

Such rates are charged in proportion to the value of your property, which is estimated by government surveyors.

As a result, if you run a business in an up-market or thriving area where property prices are high, you’re likely to pay higher business rates.

For example, a business owner in London will likely pay more than a business owner operating in the North of England.

Business rates: What you need to know about the upcoming changes

Following huge backlash against rising rates, which saw some small businesses see their bills increase by up to 3,000%, chancellor of the exchequer Philip Hammond announced a revaluation process to aid the hardest hit during the Budget 2017.

Announcing three new measures, Hammond promised that businesses losing small business rate relief would see their bills increase by no more than £50 per month next year.

As well as introducing a £1,000 discount for all pubs with a rateable value of less than £100,000, and a £300m fund allowing local authorities to help “hard cases” in their areas.

However, said £300m fund was then postponed in April after Theresa May’s decision to announce a snap general election – though it was hoped the process would resume as normal following the formation of the new Tory-DUP government.

However, such plans have not come to fruition – much to the fury of many business owners.

A DCLG spokesman said:

“We’ve been clear that local authorities should take urgent steps to make sure small businesses benefit from the funding that we announced at the Budget in April.

“There are councils that have pressed ahead and issued revised bills. Others have chosen to wait for software updates to deliver this particular scheme and we’ve taken steps to make sure business get this relief as quickly as possible.”

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