A NON-COMMITTAL BUDGET

Victoria Trafford, Director of Rating, on today’s Budget

The Chancellor’s announcement of a further £435m of relief for firms “hit the hardest by the Business Rates Revaluation” as part of a three-point package of reforms is something of a token gesture.

Philip Hammond has announced that the government will provide a £1,000 discount off rate liability for all pubs with a rateable value of less that £100,000 – comprising of 90 per cent of pubs across the UK. The full details of ratepayer eligibility are as not yet known, nor Is the application process.

In addition, local councils will be provided with a £300m fund to offer discretionary relief for hard-hit cases, but there is no clarification on what the government defines as ‘hard-hit’ and what criteria will justify an application for it.

Meanwhile, any business coming out of small business rate relief will benefit from an additional cap and will not see their bill increase by more than £50 per month.

It will be interesting it see if the Welsh government will follow suit and what support it will offer the licensed trade industry.

Hammond said that he and the communities secretary Sajid Javid we’re working together to find solutions further to months of lobbying by concerned businesses for the Government to ease the burden of business rates ahead of the rise next month as a result of the 2017 Rates Revaluation.

But the general consensus from myself, my colleagues, and I can confidently say, my clients, is that this Is a token effort from the government, and does not readdress the utter confusion that rate payer, local authorities and the Valuation Office Agency are currently experiencing due to the root and branch reforms of the appeal system that will come into force with effect from next month.

The clock is ticking, and we still do not have details of the new appeal legislation, and there is still some uncertainty of the way in which the VO website is going to operate.

Councils are now in the final stages of issuing business rate demands for the new financial year, these last minute revisions to reliefs will only serve to add a larger burden to the councils’ already stretched revenues departments.

We look forward to seeing greater details of the way in which these proposals are going to be implemented and will be working with our clients and guiding then through the challenges ahead.