Business Rates relief schemes’ update

Stuart Hicks, Manchester Office, Director - Dunlop Heywood By Stuart Hicks, Director

 Business rates aren’t top of the Government’s agenda right now for obvious reasons but the Dept for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) is still receiving a number of enquiries about the business rates relief schemes that were announced in the Spring budget.

 To try and answer many of the queries in one go the DCLG published a guide for Local Authorities and issued a quick update on where its progress lies. Here are a few pointers:

 Supporting small business

Initial guidance was published back in March on the operation of this scheme in 2017/18 and allowed councils to identify eligible businesses. It should have encouraged councils to identify and notify businesses that were likely to benefit from this new relief. Work has been going on behind the scenes to looks at further guidance to cover subsequent years and more complex cases.  

Local discretionary relief schemes

Allocations to local authorities were confirmed on 21 April and a grant determination sent out on 28 April.  Councils should now be proceeding with developing their local schemes. It’s up to each authority to design its scheme as it sees fit.

Under the terms of the grant determinations, all the compensation is being paid to billing authorities, in the first instance.  However, the intention is that the sum is to be shared between billing and major precepting authorities in the normal way. 

 Support for pubs

Following the Budget announcement, there was still a window of opportunity for consultation and lobbying by trade bodies and local government representatives on the detail of the pubs relief scheme.  Many authorities have already taken steps to identify pubs within the parameters set out at the Budget but final guidance on the operation and scope of this scheme is still pending.

So, there are still a lot of questions to be answered and no doubt the situation could change once more after the General Election. But, in the meantime, the “Chicken Little” scenario predicted by many surrounding the Revaluation in April hasn’t yet come to pass and London retailers don’t seem to be making a mass exodus for the M1 Northbound just yet….