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Treasury signals that further rates help is on its way for restaurants

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The government has urged councils not to issue business rates bills this month ahead of the new 2021/22 financial year which starts on 1 April until after the Budget on 3 March, signalling that further support for occupiers of commercial property like shops, pubs and restaurants is coming. 

Councils, as billing authorities, would normally be expected to start issuing and sending out annual business rates bills this month ahead of the new financial year.

The Treasury, attempting to negate the economic impact of the coronavirus, wrote off business rates bills for the current financial year, which runs from 1 April 2020 to 31 March 2021, to the tune of £10.13 billion fully exempting 358,000 occupied retail, leisure and hospitality properties in England according to the real estate adviser, Altus Group.

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But Financial Secretary to the Treasury, Jesse Norman, has told councils that they should instead “consider issuing business rates bills after the Chancellor has set out his plan at the Budget” saying that “it is in the public interest to avoid any potential confusion for businesses and to avoid the cost of having to re-bill businesses in light of any measures that may be included in the Budget.”

Robert Hayton, UK president at Altus Group, said: “If the end of the pandemic is indeed in sight, it has never been more important than now to ensure that viable businesses are supported adequately during these final months. The Chancellor has to avoid a cliff-edge through withdrawing reliefs too early but he also cannot risk repeating the mistakes of the past where support was arbitrary rather than targeted to those most in need.”

13 large retailers, including the Big 4 supermarkets, have already agreed to repay £2.16 billion in rates relief that they have received through the holiday having weathered the pandemic well.

Business rates are devolved to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

EDITOR’S VIEW: Put your magic moneypot away Rishi and give the industry what it really needs to spark a recovery

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Andrew Seymour

The author Andrew Seymour

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