Councils ‘sitting on money’ allocated to pub and restaurant operators

BRISTOL, UNITED KINGDOM - NOVEMBER 27:  In this photo illustration pound coins are stacked in front of a twenty pound note on November 27 2008 in Bristol, England. Many UK consumers are feeling the pinch as the financial crisis and economic downturn makes borrowing harder and more expensive and the recession starts to bite.  (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

Many pubs and restaurants have still not received millions of pounds worth of promised business rates relief after it was promised in the Spring Budget.

The promised package of support included £1,000 in relief for pubs with a rateable value of £100,000 or below and a £300 million discretionary fund for local authorities. It has still not been received by hard-pressed businesses, according to new research by the ALMR.

In a sample of 25 local authorities, 22 had yet to develop a scheme to distribute discretionary relief worth £31 million.

The ALMR also found no evidence of any councils issuing the £1,000 pub-specific relief, worth potentially £25 million to the sector.

The fact that this relief has been made available to local authorities and is still not getting through to where it is most needed, proves we need immediate and wholesale reform of a broken system,” said the ALMR’s chief executive, Kate Nicholls.

“Pubs and restaurants are in urgent need of financial assistance and have already seen some closures across London due in part to spiralling business rates bills and these delays risk others suffering the same fate.”

She added: “Local authorities are sitting on money that has been earmarked for hardworking and very hard-pressed businesses. In some cases, those local authorities that have devised schemes for discretionary rates have excluded pubs, the very businesses that have been hardest hit. Councils need to make their relief schemes as fair as possible, and be free from restrictions or red tape as businesses of all sizes and trading styles are in need of support.”

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