BBPA Chief Executive Brigid Simmonds has welcomed the tough approach from DCLG in naming councils that are failing to distribute much-needed business rates relief to local pubs and other small businesses.
The DCLG initiative is a response to many local authorities not making enough progress in distributing business rates reliefs announced in the Budget in March. The BBPA has also produced a template letter, freely available via www.beerandpub.com, for pubs to send to local councils to make sure they are receiving the reliefs to which they are entitled.
At the Spring Budget, the Chancellor announced a £435 million package of support for business ratepayers over the next four years, following the 2017 business rate revaluation. The package of support comprises three schemes, one of which is specifically aimed at pubs, after a vocal campaign from the BBPA and other bodies on the issue:
- a scheme to cap the annual bill increase for any ratepayer losing small business rate relief or rural rate relief because of the revaluation
- a £300 million fund for local authorities to distribute over four years to help hard-pressed businesses facing higher business rates bills; this of course could include pubs.
- a £1,000 discount to pubs with a rateable value of less than £100,000
The list, which appears on the DCLG website and will be updated regularly, shows that whilst 156 local authorities out of 312 have indeed begun rebilling for all three schemes, the same number, 156 have not done so for all three. A total of 88 have indicated they have rebilled for only one scheme, and three local authorities, Hertsmere, Sheffield, and West Lancashire, have not indicated they have rebilled for the pub-specific scheme.
BBPA Chief Executive, Brigid Simmonds comments:
“Given the reports we have been receiving about delays, I really welcome the Government stepping up of efforts to ensure that much-needed rates relief is reaching pubs and other small businesses most in need, as the Government intended. I hope also, that pubs will make use of the letter we have produced today, to help them claim their reliefs.
“Delays from local councils are inexcusable. If some councils can get their rates relief fully up-and-running, all should be able to do the same. For those that have begun rebilling, the process of getting the reliefs to pubs needs to be sorted out as quickly as possible.”
The BBPA, which welcomed the announcement of pub specific rate relief in the Budget, is calling for the £1,000 relief to be extended in future years, and to be raised fivefold, to £5,000 per year.
The association is also calling for comprehensive business rates reform, as its own research shows that pubs pay 2.8 per cent of the total business rates bill, despite generating just 0.4 per cent of business turnover.