The Treasury has confirmed that businesses will not be able to cite the impact of COVID-19 as a valid reason for applying for a reduction in their business rates.
Instead the Government has announced it will provide a £1.5 billion pot across the country that will be distributed according to which sectors have suffered most economically, rather than on the basis of falls in property values.
Thousands of businesses across retail, hospitality and leisure are currently benefiting from a business rates holiday which was first announced by the Government a year ago.
In England, the tax relief will continue until the end of June 2021, before becoming a reduced discount until the end of March 2022. In Wales and Scotland, the business rates holiday was extended for another 12 months.
Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak said: “By providing more targeted support than the business rates appeals system, our approach will help protect and support jobs in businesses across the country, providing a further boost as we reopen the economy, emerge from this crisis, and build back better.”
Responding to the announcement Federation of Small Businesses National Chair Mike Cherry said: “Although there is light at the end of the tunnel, these remain uncertain times for many businesses who won’t be functioning at full capacity for a numbers of months to come.
“That is why small firms will be relieved to hear the announcement of a fresh set of business rates relief targeted at those businesses outside of the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors that have lost trade but have been left to pay business rate bills in full often without revenue to afford them”.
“What is crucial however is ensuring that these funds genuinely reach those who need it most so we look forward to the guidance of which businesses will fall into scope. While at the same time we must see these funds distributed as fast as possible to prevent further small business casualties.”