Business Rate Reform ‘Shelved Until Later Date’ According To Reports

Business reform has been “shelved until a later date”, according to a report in The Telegraph today.

The Telegraph has reported that minimal changes were expected to be announced in the chancellor’s Budget on 27 October, however despite the government being committed to reforming the system, more time was needed.

A government spokesperson said: “We’ve provided extensive business rates relief worth £16b to support businesses and the high street throughout the pandemic, with support continuing until March next year.

“We’ve also shown we are committed to supporting investment through the tax system, extending the Annual Investment Allowance increase for another year and introducing the super-deduction – the biggest business tax cut in modern British history.

“We’re currently conducting a review of business rates which will conclude in the autumn.”

This would be the fifth time the Government delayed publishing its plans for business rates reform.

In March 2020, the Government announced a new consultation and said that the first part of the business rates review would be published in the tail end of 2020, with the second part in early 2021.

There have already been four delays to publishing the business rates review this year.

John Webber, head of business rates at real estate company Colliers, said the report was “massively disappointing” and frustrating given that the review had already been delayed four times in the last year.

“Delayed action will be a further hit to businesses – it will cost jobs and will do nothing to save the high street,” he said.

“The chancellor, at the very least, should commit to a reduction of the multiplier to around 30p when he stands up at the end of the month. That would provide a significant relief to businesses across all sectors, particularly those in retail and hospitality.”

Robert Hayton, UK president at real estate adviser Altus Group, added: “Doing nothing is contributing to the financial trauma or ruin of tens of thousands of businesses waiting for outstanding challenges to rates liabilities to be resolved. The chancellor needs, at the very least, to set strict targets for the Valuation Office Agency to focus on clearing the backlog of cases to facilitate the return of years of business rates overpayments. That’s not reform, that’s just doing their job.”

In its party conference, Labour pledged to cut business rates in England for small business before phasing them out entirely.