Decisions due on reducing Gloucestershire business rates by a third
By Andrew Merrell | 6th February 2019
Decisions are about to be taken across Gloucestershire which could see rates reduced by a third for more than 1,300-plus county businesses.
Businesses which stand to benefit should not have to apply for the money or account for themselves in any way - and all the work should be done by their local authority.
And (at a risk of sounding far-fetched) the savings will come on top of any other rate relief they are already able to claim.
If the local authority claims the glory, just nod politely, because the decision all councils are having to make is a ruling which must be obeyed from Government (from the Chancellor Phillip Hammond, to be precise).
They have to introduce the Business Rates Retail Discount Scheme.
"The move which councillors are due to consider in February's cabinet meeting could see businesses with a rateable value of less than £51,000, see their rates reduced by a third," said a spokesman for Gloucester City Council.
According to calculations by Punchline that could leave a business which benefits at the top end of the scheme £8,000 better off.
"If given the go-ahead the proposal is set to benefit around 290 retailers, which could include independent shops, charity shops, restaurants and cafes (a full list of businesses and which could qualify can be found here).
"The plan recognises that small to medium shops face a growing challenge on the high street as more shoppers go online."
Rob Case, partner and head of tax at Randall & Payne, said: "Additional rates relief is always welcome for local businesses especially in what is a struggling retail environment.
"Seeing this introduced quickly is reassuring for those people benefiting from the change. However, given that it was announced as a short-term relief for two years, it would be good to see this short-term relief extended indefinitely."
In Cheltenham the borough council is due to vote on Tuesday.
"We've identified about 300 businesses that we can award the relief to when we produce the new bills for 2019/20. We are identifying more businesses that may possibly qualify but we'll need to send them application forms to confirm."
Ian Sloan, of Bankier Sloan Chartered Surveyors, which has offices in Moreton-in-Marsh, is also a long-standing campaigner for businesses on the subject of rates.
He disputes that any application should be necessary.
"There should be no need to make an application; local councils have been instructed by central Government to give this relief automatically even if businesses have more than one outlet. There is no limit on the number of premises you can receive this relief on, providing each has a RV of under £51,000.
"If retailers operate many retail units or already receive state aid there is a total limit to this relief set at 200,000 Euros over 3 years."
Tewkesbury Borough Council has already made its decision on the Business Rates Retail Discount Scheme, and believes it will benefit 100 businesses in its borough.
Stroud District Council said it had identified 208 businesses that will qualify and has published information on its website already.
It thinks this could benefit business to the tune of more than £344,500. All of which will be met by central Government.
Cotswold District Council estimate 400 businesses will benefit and it is due to make its decision on February 26.
There were no figures available as yet for the Forest of Dean.
Punchline says: We hope this runs smoothly for businesses after last year's 'difficulties' with local authorities distributing rate relief cash. Difficulties which saw some of the money not distributed at all.
Cheltenham Borough Council: https://www.cheltenham.gov.uk/info/25/business_rates/124/business_rate_reliefs_and_discounts/5
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