10 May 2021
Business Rates During The Pandemic
Most businesses have not had any relief from the payment of business rates since the lockdown in March 2020. This is with the exception of businesses operating in the retail, catering, hospitality, licensed and leisure sectors, where they have been given 100% relief from paying business rates. Occupiers of offices, industrial premises, warehouses, and other commercial properties generally have not had the benefit of such business rates relief. They have been faced with having to pay the full amount due. This is despite the fact that in many cases the businesses occupying these buildings have been legally unable to do so because of the pandemic and government Legislation.
The upshot of this was that, not surprisingly, huge number of rating appeals were lodged over the course of the last 12 months, with the Valuation Office. This has created a major backlog in workload, as such a significant number of appeals is extremely difficult to manage all at one go.
However, the government is planning to prevent such appeals to proceed, so that rating reductions could be achieved by these businesses. Instead it is planning to provide a relief fund such that grants will be made payable to such occupiers in due course. It is likely that local authorities will be given powers to decide how to allocate monies out of this relief fund to businesses.
It is unlikely that this relief will reach the bank accounts of businesses for some months yet, as clearly there will be a massive logistics problem in handling the fund, let alone deciding how it should be allocated to business occupiers.