Thousands of small business owners in England are still waiting for the financial support promised by the Government to ease the burden of increased business rates, with many not likely to be recompensed until after the upcoming General Election.
Chancellor of the Exchequer, Phillip Hammond, unveiled the measures in the March Budget, designed to cap the increase of business rates for those businesses at most risk of the growing charges following the revaluation of commercial property throughout the England and Wales in 2016.
Mr Hammond confirmed that businesses losing small business rate relief – a discount awarded to firms with properties below a specified rateable value – would not see their business rate bills rise by more than £50 a month. The Government pledged £25m in the March Budget to provide this protection, however, the impending General Election has created uncertainty over the future of the rate relief.
Local authorities can legally adjust business rate bills, as directed by Mr Hammond, but without the official published guidance from the Government they have no firm guarantee that Whitehall will cover the costs from the Government’s initial pledge.
Mark Rigby, Chief Executive of rates specialist, CVS, said: “A common sense approach here is needed.
“The money to help those most in need is coming from the Government and there is no reason why revised tax demands shouldn’t have been sent out by local councils by now.
“These delays are simply causing panic, confusion and alarm for small firms.”
Many local councils have been pursuing the Government to provide the necessary guidance and it’s been confirmed that in the last few days the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) has sent out clarification to all local authority chief financial officers across England with the required paperwork.
A spokesperson for the DCLG confirmed: “We have also published guidance on the additional relief available to support small businesses and have encouraged local authorities to inform businesses that are eligible as soon as possible.”