Our Head of London Rating, Paul Nash, discusses the Government’s recent decision to extinguish the Covid-19 pandemic as grounds for a valid business rates appeal and why this may create a dangerous precedent for the future.
The government has recently announced that a new £1.5bn fund is to be distributed by councils to businesses that have thus far not qualified for rates relief under previously announced schemes. This new pot of money will be directed at those businesses that have suffered the most economically rather than on the basis of a fall in property values resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic.
Aiming to “get cash to affected businesses in the most proportionate and equitable way” (1), the new fund follows a flood of requests for support during the coronavirus pandemic and is designed to help firms outside the retail, leisure and hospitality sectors.
Any new funding to help businesses emerge from the pandemic is of course welcome but £1.5bn is not nearly enough to help all of those affected businesses. Contrasting this with the £16bn fund announced for retail, leisure and hospitality, it merely pales into insignificance.
As a result, this recent announcement from the government is likely to mark the end of any potential relief due to Covid-19 for many ratepayers who are already struggling with the financial impact of the deepest recession Britain has faced for 300 years, who had already appealed their rating assessments on the grounds that the pandemic has affected their property values.
At the same time, legislation will be issued extinguishing the Covid-19 pandemic as grounds for appealing business rates. This is the first time the government has legislated to rule out a specific event constituting grounds for a business rates appeal, and it could set a dangerous precedent for future rates appeals.
For more information on how this new announcement may affect you, please contact our Rating Team.
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