The Chancellor failed to mention the need to address business rates in his latest Spending Review for the financial year 2021-22, something Colliers International is calling “desperately disappointing” having made a plea for action on the point.
“The Chancellor said this Review was all about ‘jobs, jobs, jobs’, but has forecast that, despite the measures he has revealed, the UK will see 2.6m unemployed by Q2 next year. It is incomprehensible how he can say that on one hand, but then ignore the cries of crucial sectors of our economy, particularly the retail and leisure/ hospitality sectors, who need clarity over whether they will facing massive business rates rises again in April next year, once their Covid-19 business rates ‘holiday’ comes to an end,” said John Webber, heads of business rates at Colliers.
“It’s also worrying that the Chancellor has not mentioned a timeline for when he will announce on the ‘Rates issue’. It is inconceivable if he feels he can wait until the March Budget to discuss changes to the business rates system. By then many retailers will have made their plans for the forthcoming year and many of these will include closures and job losses in anticipation of the big bills coming through the letterbox.
“We are also disappointed there was no mention of any form of business rates reform, despite promises that we would hear about that this Autumn.”
The business rates team at Colliers say the Chancellor should have:
- Announced an extension of the current 2020/2021 100% business rates holiday for the retail and hospitality sectors which is due to end next March- for another six or even 12 months from April 2021.
- Provided business rates relief for other sectors who have not had the advantages of the business rates holiday.
- Extended the deadline dates for applications for the lockdown grants.
- Made good on the promise to bring in proper business rates reform.
- Brought in a business rates arrears moratorium until April 2021 at least for those businesses, who because of the pandemic have been unable to pay their business rates bills, allowing businesses a chance to sort out their finances.
Webber said: “The Chancellor had a golden opportunity to bring some relief to businesses across the country who are struggling as a result of the unprecedented circumstances we have seen in 2020. It has been disappointing that he did not mention business rates or reassure businesses that they will not be faced with either untenable bills next Spring or court action now.”