Written by: Keith Tully
Published: 31st May 2017
There are thousands of small businesses around the UK still waiting to receive the financial support promised to them by the government in the wake of significant rises in their business rate bills.
The issue of sharply increased business rates has become a source of real concern and financial insecurity for companies throughout the country in recent months and some are being badly affected.
An overhaul of the system which evaluates commercial properties and determines business ratings for companies was implemented earlier this year.
In March, prior to the new system coming into effect, chancellor Philip Hammond promised that the government would provide £300 million worth of financial support to businesses that were hardest hit by the rate hikes.
However, that support has yet to come through to thousands of small businesses who are still being asked to pay much larger amounts than they are accustomed to in business rates.
Immediately after the Prime Minister Theresa May called a snap general election in mid-April, the government said that it would delay the process of allocating business rates relief funds until the election was over and the new government was officially formed.
More recently, it was agreed that those funds would in fact start to be distributed via local councils throughout the country in advance of the election but that process is now understood to have been held up for administrative reasons.
The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has said that local councils should hold off from chasing small firms for “inflated bills” where they have been allocated government funds precisely to help those same businesses avoid those very costs. “Every local authority has known its fund allocation since April, so they should not be chasing small business owners for inflated bills as they have not got round to devising their distribution schemes,” the FSB said in a statement.
“FSB calls on government to issue guidance to local authorities that puts a moratorium on pursuing small businesses for these incorrect bills - which would need to be refunded as soon as a local authority gets its house in order.
“The first order of business for the communities secretary in the next government should be to get a grip and make sure the promised help is delivered in the first month of office.”