Government’s interim report on business rate reforms out

The Government has released its interim report on business rate reforms ahead of its full review that has been postponed until the autumn.

It noted that “previous reviews have reflected a consensus that business rates have distinct strengths as a tax. These factors, such as efficiency of collection, the high level of revenue raised, and the relative difficulty of evasion, make it an essential source of funding for local services.

“The results of this Call for Evidence bear out that view, but respondents have also emphasised a range of important challenges. These include the burden of the tax, including its administration burdens; the targeting and effectiveness of the reliefs system, the frequency of revaluations, and calls to address competition from online sales”

Hundreds of businesses and sector experts had answered the Government’s call for evidence over the month and the latest report is a summary of responses that potentially indicate a direction of the travel for future policy.

The Government is calling it “a summary of commonly expressed perspectives.” Overall, 237 responses were submitted to the Business Rates Review ahead of the first deadline for Tranche 1 responses on 18 September 2020, which sought views on the most immediately pressing elements of the business rates system, and covered business rates reliefs and the business rates multiplier.  Empty Rates Relief drew many responses according to the interim report.  It will be interesting to see whether England will follow Scotland’s lead in increasing the continuous occupation requirement from 6 weeks to 6 months.  Wales have indicated their intention to do so from 1st April 2022 following a postponement from 1st April 2021.

The interim report can be read Fundamental_Review_Interim_Report