Tax & admin · 21 August 2017

Small firms grow impatient with government on business rates relief deadline day

People walking in front of local restaurants in Broadway Market
London firms suffer from some of the country’s highest business rates
Small businesses have called on the government and local councils to confirm that updates to local business rates software are in place, as three major software providers reach the government’s 21 August deadline.

At a meeting in Westminster last month, the three firms providing the majority of local UK authority IT system software Capita, Civica and Northgate Public Services were ordered to ensure all IT systems were up to date by 21 August, so that 435m of business rate relief could begin to be distributed to small and vulnerable firms.

In a statement, the Federation of Small Businesses? (FSB) national chairman, Mike Cherry, said that he thought local authorities across the UK were struggling to meet the 21 August deadline.

He said: From speaking to local authorities, our sense is that hitting this deadline is going right down to the wire. Our hope is that councils have received the updates required to deliver the urgently needed support measures announced more than five months ago.

In March this year, the government unveiled a series of relief measures for those business owners hit hardest by April’s business rates revaluation the first in the UK for seven years.

The relief measures included a 300m hardship fund allocated to local councils, a 50 monthly cap on all bill increases for businesses emerging from rate relief, and a discount for pub owners holding premises with a rateable value below 100, 000.

Rollout of the business rates relief package has been stymied, however, with delays linked to the UK’s general election and uncertainty to do with administration and regulation, as well as issues surrounding IT systems.

Cherry said that the delay in business rates relief was the fault of central government, whose responsibility it now was to ensure relief is distributed to the business owners who need it most as quickly and efficiently as possible.

He added: it’s time for the Department for Communities and Local Government?(DCLG) and local authorities to get a grip and ensure fully revised bills are with small firms before the summer’s out.


 
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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Fred Heritage was previously deputy editor at Business Advice. He has a BA in politics and international relations from the University of Kent and an MA in international conflict from Kings College London.

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