More than 500,000 businesses in Britain have are still experiencing problems following the latest business rates regulation changes. Start-ups in the UK were forced to pay more in business rates without knowing whether they will benefit from the announced £300 million relief package. Following the announcement, which can into fruition in March, news have surfaced that the ‘relief fund’ has still yet to be paid out and it is causing major problems for UK businesses.
Restaurants, shops and businesses in southern England have been hit the most following the first revaluation in over 7 years. Recent news articles broadcasted that certain start-ups have been faced with massive 50% rise in business tax, and with the new support fund announced by the Chancellor still not functioning, these business are still unsure of whether they will be able to benefit or lose out. Worry remains that businesses will be left in the dark for more months to come and with no announcements on the horizons, will people get their money back? Experts fear that the longer this is drawn out, businesses could be forced to relocate or go under.
Following the flood of news, Government sources leap to the defence of the fund by stating that it will be ready by the end of summer. Jerry Schurder, head of business rates at Gerald Eve, said: “Whilst the package of measures announced in the Budget will eventually bring benefit to some businesses, the current uncertainty as to who will qualify and to what extent, is of huge concern… Rates bills landing on doormats now do not include any of the new reliefs and demand payment of the first monthly instalment within the next few days.
“In the meantime, Government is still consulting as to how the £300m discretionary relief fund will be divvied up amongst councils. Only once it has made decisions and advised local authorities as to the categories of business Government believes should be considered for relief will the process begin… Councils will have to devise their own guidance as to which of their local businesses might qualify, programme their billing systems, create application procedures and put in place resources to manage what could well be a torrent of applications for these discretionary reliefs. We could be well into the summer before businesses learn what share of the pie, if any, they will be granted.”
As stated, over half a million UK businesses have seen a spike in their business rates. The Government have however, disputed this change by releasing figures that show that 420,000 will play the same amount as previous, with 920,000 companies set to see a decrease following estimates after the first quarter.
The magnifying glass was firmly shone on ministers before the Budget as support was being called upon for those affected by doublings in rates after sharp housing price increases. Following this, the Chancellor announced 3 different measures in July that meant that start-ups facing those larger rates would get more help, that 90% of pubs would be given a thousand pounds off of their bills and finally, that the third measure was the article based topic surrounding the £300 million fund for firms raising council given tax rates rises – the same fund that businesses are waiting to claim a business rates appeal.
Despite this, owners as well as critics are still skeptical about this as they are still being forced to pay increased bills today without knowing whether they will be able to get the money back or the financial help that they have been promised. Each local council can also choose its own rules for who gets the funds, leaving business facing more uncertainty according to experts.
The Government this week have responded by outlining the £6.7 billion package that is set to commerce to aid businesses with the revaluation, stating that the fund would be functioning “as soon as possible… We’ve listened to the concerns of businesses and are giving an extra £435 million to help those facing the steepest increases in their bills. Working with local authorities, we’re making sure this extra support gets to businesses as soon as possible.”
That however, is still no help for businesses financial concerns today and as it has now been many months since this business rates relief was set to take place, they are still no closer to an answer. Continued stalling on this policy could massively hit the UK economy with start-up going out of business. That mixed with uncertainty regarding Brexit changes and free movement regulations could produce mass problems for the business climate within the country.