Written by: Keith Tully
Published: 24th April 2017
Plans to provide £300 million worth of business rates relief to small enterprises around the UK have been put on hold by the government as a result of its decision to call a snap general election.
Voters nationwide will take to the polls on June 8th with planning and campaigning for that process having apparently now taken precedence over certain other matters as far as the government is concerned.
The decision to provide hundreds of millions of pounds worth of business rates relief came after it emerged that thousands of small businesses would be faced with significantly increased overheads as a result of this year’s overhaul of the UK’s business rates system.
An announcement from the chancellor of the exchequer during his Budget speech in March paved the way for a relief package to be created but its delivery now looks set to be delayed at least until a new government has been formed.
For many small businesses with commercial premises to run, including shop, nursery, pub and restaurant owners, the business rates overhaul has resulted in a sharp increase in outgoings and potentially a threat to their ongoing sustainability.
Hopes that rate relief funds might be allocated to soften the blow of these changes within a matter of weeks now look to have been dashed.
The government’s Department for Communities and Local Government has completed a consultation looking into how a relief package might best be distributed but its recommendations will not now be considered until after the upcoming general election, it has been confirmed.
“The relief fund was negotiated and designed to help those shouldering the biggest increases through the revaluation,” said Mark Rigby from the advisory firm CVS.
“For the distribution of that relief to now be delayed is an unhappy consequence of the general election and will cause grave concern to small businesses already worried about the burden they are facing.”
Recent research by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) found that over half of all small firms who have seen their overheads increase as a result of business rate revaluations expect their profits to fall this year.
Meanwhile, one in five small enterprise bosses fear that increased business rates may lead to a situation in which they are forced to consider closing down or selling their businesses in the coming months, according to the FSB.
Read our article here to find out your options if you cannot afford business rates.