Stop arguing and start handing out rates relief, London businesses urge government

 
Helen Cahill
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Warnings Given As April Business Rate Rise Threatens UK High Streets
Business rate changes came into effect at the beginning of April (Source: Getty)

London businesses have today called on councils and the government to stop arguing about business rates and get on with handing out the tax relief promised to ratepayers in the Spring Budget.

Local councils and the government have been arguing over who is to blame for a delay in handing out the £300m business rates relief set aside for firms by chancellor Philip Hammond in March.

Claire Kober, chair of London Councils, which are set to receive £124m of the relief funding, wrote to the department for communities and local government (DCLG) earlier this month to complain that there was not enough clarity or support for local authorities seeking to provide relief.

Read more: FSB urges Sajid Javid to end 'shambolic' delay of business rate relief fund

Business representatives have criticised the handling of the situation, calling on the relief to be handed out as soon as possible.

Colin Stanbridge, chief executive of the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry said: "Rather than focus on blame, it would be helpful to concentrate on how to get the relief to those small businesses that really need it."

The Department for Communities and Local Government has asked councils to update the government on the progress that has been made on handing out relief.

Mark Rigby, Chief Executive of business rent and rates specialists CVS, said:

In the spirit of openness and transparency, I would call upon the Government to immediately release those updates and tell small firms the latest date by which they will receive the help they so desperately need in order to bring an end to this uncertainty and confusion.

Jerry Schurder, head of business rates at Gerald Eve, said the relief system had "descended into chaos" because the government had shifted responsibility for providing the finance to local councils.

Schurder added:

The result is a confused, bureaucratic red-tape mess with each local authority scrabbling to decide which local businesses are deserving of support, while the intended beneficiaries flirt with insolvency.

Local government minister Marcus Jones wrote to local authorities earlier this month urging them to distribute the funding.

A DCLG spokesman said: "Local authorities have known since April how much of the discretionary fund they would each receive and some councils are already pressing ahead and issuing revised bills.

"We've encouraged other councils to follow suit so that they can make sure local businesses benefit from the additional relief as soon as possible."

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