Businesses Face Delay To Rates Relief

Hundreds of businesses including pubs, hotels and restaurants expecting to receive relief on their business rates bills will now face a delay due to a “glitch” with some councils’ computer systems.

According to The Times, 75 local authorities have been told by their software provider that changes to rates bills cannot be made until after the new financial year.

Changes to business rates reliefs that the government wants to introduce from April 1, for the financial year 2020/21, will not be introduced in time by some councils, according to the article.

During the General Election campaign last year, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced proposals to increase the current business rates discount for small retailers from one-third off to 50 per cent off.

Nine out of 10 independent businesses would have qualified for the relief, which is available to businesses with a rateable value of below £51,000.

However, with new business rates bills set to land on doorsteps later this month, councils that use Civica software have been told that the firm is presently unable to bring in the changes in time for annual billing.

Over 75 Councils use their OPENRevenues system to streamline the administration of non-domestic rates.

A department spokesman said: “The government has been working closely with councils and has published detailed guidance on how to implement the new business rates reliefs.”

Robert Hayton, of the real estate adviser Altus Group, said: “Tax demands can be manually adjusted by councils so it is ridiculous that small firms in England will have to wait.”