Financial Secretary to the Treasury Jesse Norman has urged councils not to issue business rates bills this month (February) ahead of the new 2021/22 financial year, which starts on 1 April.
Instead, he has told councils they should “consider issuing business rates bills after the Chancellor has set out his plan at the Budget” saying that “it is in the public interest to avoid any potential confusion for businesses and to avoid the cost of having to re-bill businesses in light of any measures that may be included in the Budget.”
Councils, as billing authorities, would normally be expected to start issuing and sending out annual business rates bills this month ahead of the new financial year.
The Treasury, attempting to negate the economic impact of the Coronavirus, wrote off business rates bills for the current financial year, which runs from 1 April 2020 to 31 March 2021, to the tune of £10.13bn.
According to real estate adviser Altus Group, the decision fully exempted 358,264 occupied retail, leisure and hospitality properties in England.
“If the end of the pandemic is indeed in sight, it has never been more important than now to ensure that viable businesses are supported adequately during these final months," says Robert Hayton, UK president at Altus Group.
"The Chancellor has to avoid a cliff-edge through withdrawing reliefs too early but he also cannot risk repeating the mistakes of the past where support was arbitrary rather than targeted to those most in need.”
Speculation over what the financial relief hospitality will receive in the March Budget to help see it through the protracted third lockdown has been growing, with Norman telling MPs last week that there was 'no plans' to extend the VAT cut for the hospitality sector.