Following the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s Budget yesterday, the BBC report that “Pubs and small businesses in England will receive extra help with their business rates bill, the chancellor has announced.
The new measures mean that 90% of pubs in England will receive a discount while small firms set to lose their rate relief will see increases capped at £50 a month, the chancellor said.
A £300m fund for local councils to offer discretionary relief to the worst-hit firms was also announced.”
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Business Rates are a devolved issue. Scotland and Wales have already announced changes to their systems; the hospitality sector in Scotland had raised serious concerns about the adverse impact the proposed hikes in rates could have on their businesses.
On average, hotels in Scotland faced increases in their annual rates bills of 37% which is significantly higher than other sectors.
Following much criticism from ratepayers in the hospitality sector, on 21 February 2017 The Scottish Government Finance Secretary, Derek Mackay, announced some respite for the sector whereby rates increases for 2017-18 are to be capped at 12.5% through the creation of a new national relief scheme which will extend to pubs, restaurants and cafes.
Whilst this rates cap is welcome, relief will only last one year and it will not stop the proposed Rateable Value increases. Rates bills are still likely to increase substantially from April 2018 onwards.
Landlords, tenants and occupiers alike are therefore advised to lodge an appeal on their new rates assessments. Failure to submit an appeal by 30 September 2017 will lead to a loss of the right to challenge the new assessment, potentially resulting in excessive rates bills until 2022 at the earliest.