Retailers hoping for quick business rates cut could be left hanging

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

It is interesting to see the mainstream business media picking up on the issue of business rates again after a hiatus of several months, caused by Brexit and Labour in-fighting, more than anything.

Anyway with business rates back on the agenda, research is revealing that High street retailers outside London hoping for business rates cuts of as much as 44 per cent.

Having seen figures myself from a widespread across the country, I say that figures could be even higher in some places.

However, it could be years before the regional retailers feel the full benefit. The picture should become clearer when the Valuation Office Agency releases its initial view of revised rateable values at the end of this month. Bills will then follow in March, 2017. But transitional rate relief designed to protect those facing hikes, and which would be tapered over several years, could also mean those expecting cuts will be footing the bill.

I’m pretty sure the upwards relief will be phased in over some years, to try and soften the blow of the south east and, in particular, London retailers who will be seeing pretty stiff hikes.

But as I have said before, the self-same retailers have already enjoyed years of artificially low business rates compared to the rest of the country so why really should the poorer cousins still be subsiding them into the future?

It all boils down to the Government needing to recover whatever it loses from within the system and that will mainly be achieved by a transitional delay.

There will be a lot of businesses, not just retailers, who will be eager to hear about the tapered liabilities – hopefully sooner rather than later!