This week the Chancellor announced the expansion of a one year business rates holiday for the retail, leisure and hospitality sectors.
Until now, only “small businesses” get rates relief or reduction of up to 100% on properties with a rateable value of less than £51,000. The Chancellor intends to extend this to all businesses in these sectors, regardless of size or rateable value. The move is part of the Chancellor’s promise to do “whatever it takes” to get through the coronavirus crisis.
Rates bills will have already been issued by billing authorities, but we can expect businesses in these sectors to be advised by their rates surveyors not to make payment.
But this attempt to help businesses only goes so far. In the current economic crisis, the focus on retail, leisure and hospitality is understandable. However many such businesses, sadly, will close their doors as footfall simply disappears, yet the rates relief will only apply where premises continue to be occupied; empty rates may still be payable. In these circumstances, businesses will need to turn to other reliefs and means of mitigation.
This relief also does not help those in other sectors, in offices, logistics or manufacturing. Again mitigation or discretionary relief may be their only option.
Businesses and trade bodies will be lobbying for the new measures to be extended further to include properties in other sectors. We have to hope that the Chancellor listens.