Treasury Signals Further Rates Help On Its Way

The Government has urged councils not to issue business rates bills this month ahead of the new 2021/22 financial year which starts on 1st April until after the Budget on 3rd March signalling that further support for occupiers of commercial property like shops, pubs and restaurants is coming.

Councils, as billing authorities, would normally be expected to start issuing and sending out annual business rates bills this month ahead of the new financial year.

The Treasury, attempting to negate the economic impact of the coronavirus, wrote off business rates bills for the current financial year, which runs from 1st April 2020 to 31st March 2021, to the tune of £10.13 billion fully exempting 358,264 occupied retail, leisure and hospitality properties in England according to the real estate adviser, Altus Group.

But Financial Secretary to the Treasury, Jesse Norman, has told Councils that they should instead “consider issuing business rates bills after the Chancellor has set out his plan at the Budget” saying that “it is in the public interest to avoid any potential confusion for businesses and to avoid the cost of having to re-bill businesses in light of any measures that may be included in the Budget.”

Robert Hayton, UK President at Altus Group, said “If the end of the pandemic is indeed in sight, it has never been more important than now to ensure that viable businesses are supported adequately during these final months. The Chancellor has to avoid a cliff-edge through withdrawing reliefs too early but he also cannot risk repeating the mistakes of the past where support was arbitrary rather than targeted to those most in need.”

In January UKHospitality wrote to the Chancellor outlining the additional action needed to accelerate the revival of the UK’s hospitality sector, slash unemployment and bring the whole nation together, the letter included a call for a business rates holiday hospitality for 2021/22 to protect communities and repair businesses.

UKHospitality Chief Executive Kate Nicholls said: “Some businesses have inevitably and sadly gone to the wall, and we have lost around 650,000 jobs. Thankfully, many more businesses have managed to adapt and are still managing to cling on, keeping jobs safe and giving their staff, customers and communities hope that they will be able to reopen once the vaccine roll-out makes it safe to do so.

“Government financial support has been key – the two principal pillars of support, slashing hospitality VAT to 5% and providing a business rates holiday, have helped give employers the lifeline they needed to survive. We know from recent history that hospitality has the economic clout to be in the vanguard of economic recovery once the crisis has passed, but only if essential support is extended.

“A wide-ranging package of financial support will give hospitality businesses the best chance of not just surviving the remainder of the crisis, but leading the UK’s economic recovery in the years ahead. If we get what we need, hospitality can spearhead the economic recovery of the country, revive high streets and provide employment and investment in every single region.”

13 large retailers, including the Big 4 supermarkets, have already agreed to repay £2.16 billion in rates relief that they have received through the holiday having weathered the pandemic well.