Budget 2017: Councils respond to business rates announcement

"We are pleased local authorities will be able to work with businesses in their local areas to identify those which need this new discretionary relief funding the most and that some pubs will receive business rates discounts."


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Press release 8 March 2017

Responding to the announcement in the Spring Budget that councils will receive £300 million to provide discretionary business rates relief, Cllr Claire Kober, Chair of the Local Government Association's Resources Board, said:

"We have long argued that giving councils the freedom and funding to set discounts and reliefs locally would help them better support small businesses and local economies. We are pleased local authorities will be able to work with businesses in their local areas to identify those which need this new discretionary relief funding the most and that some pubs will receive business rates discounts.

"While measures announced today will not lead to any increase or reduction in funding for local government through business rates, there is a risk that some councils will be left out of pocket because of delays to billing caused by the lack of certainty about relief over recent weeks. It is important that the Government reimburses them for any loss of income or extra costs incurred as a result.

"Councils do not set business rates but any likely rise in appeals as a result of this latest revaluation will pose a risk to the funding of already-stretched local services.

"More than a million businesses have challenged their bill since 2010 and more than 200,000 appeals are yet to be decided. This huge volume of appeals shows too many businesses are unhappy with the current system of business rates valuation. They have also forced councils to divert £2.5 billion away from stretched local services over the past five years to cover the risk of appeals, as they have to fund half the cost of any backdated refunds.

"Local government will retain more of its business rates income by 2020 and could become liable for 100 per cent of refunds. This means a transparent and fair system of valuation and appeals is vital to provide greater certainty of cost and income to businesses and allow councils to release the money currently put aside to cover the risk of appeals to invest in vital local services."