Thousands of retailers in England have been left disappointed as they have missed out on the promised discounts on their business rates bills. Out of the 400,000 retailers, leisure venues, and hospitality businesses in the country, only 272,000 were able to claim a 50% discount on their commercial property tax, according to property specialists at Gerald Eve. This has sparked calls for the government to ensure that future support is more accurately targeted to benefit those who need it most.

The data, obtained through Freedom of Information requests to councils in England, highlights the impact of the rates relief that was meant to support businesses in sectors heavily affected by pandemic closures and aid the recovery of the high street. However, the reason for the limited number of businesses able to access the 50% discount is the cap of £110,000 on the amount that each business can receive, rather than applying the cap to each property. This means that retailers and hospitality operators with multiple sites are unable to benefit from the relief beyond their initial properties.

Gerald Eve is urging the government to extend the 50% discount into next year in order to continue supporting businesses. Failure to do so would result in a staggering £1.7 billion increase in business rates bills for retailers, leisure venues, and the hospitality sector. Jerry Schurder, the business rates policy lead at Gerald Eve, stressed the importance of the new chancellor learning from his predecessor’s mistakes and ensuring that businesses receive the necessary support. Schurder also called on the Prime Minister to fulfill her promise to intervene in rate reforms.

As the mini-budget approaches, there is anticipation surrounding the government’s plans to provide support for businesses. While the focus will likely be on addressing rising energy bills, it is crucial that businesses are not burdened with increased business rates bills. The significant number of businesses that missed out on the promised rates relief clearly demonstrates the urgent need for targeted and effective support. The new chancellor must carefully consider how to address this issue and ensure that businesses are not left behind in the post-pandemic recovery. Upholding the Prime Minister’s commitment to rate reform provides hope for a fairer and more supportive system in the future.

Useful links:
1. Calculate your business rates
2. Federation of Small Businesses