Written by: Keith Tully
Published: 31st July 2017
The government has stepped in to oversee the details of processes designed to facilitate the distribution of updated business rate bills and relief payments across England.
Changes to the business rates system resulted in increased overheads for thousands of small businesses throughout the country and for many the situation has presented serious financial problems.
By way of response, the government promised to distribute millions of pounds to help businesses who found themselves facing financial hardship as a result of the business rates regime change.
But those funds have not yet been distributed to the businesses who need and are entitled to them as a result of administrative hold ups which the Federation of Small Business (FSB) has described as “shambolic”.
Now the government has set a deadline of August 21st for relevant third party service providers to deliver the software that local councils need in order to distribute accurate and updated business rate bills to companies in their vicinity.
According to the BBC, local government minister Marcus Jones recently called representatives of the relevant software providers into meetings in Westminster to discuss the situation and what could be done to end the delays.
“We’ve been clear that local authorities should take urgent steps to make sure small businesses benefit from the funding that we announced at the Budget in April,” a spokesperson for the Department for Communities and Local Government said in a statement.
“There are councils that have pressed ahead and issued revised bills. Others have chosen to wait for software updates to deliver this particular scheme and we’ve taken steps to make sure businesses get this relief as quickly as possible.”
Mark Rigby from the ratings agency CVS said: “It took a crescendo of outcry from small firms fearing for their livelihoods to get this relief, and it’s been disheartening to watch those very firms fear for their survival amidst a war of words from councils.
“The minister was right to intervene to bring certainty by imposing a deadline.
It is now hoped that the small businesses who haven’t yet received their updated business rate bills will have them by September and that hardship funds will be released soon after to firms who are eligible for help.