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Gloucestershire Business News

Is your company missing out on business rates relief?

A North Gloucestershire Chartered Surveyor who has produced annual reports on Business Rates Relief believes many small businesses are not getting the business rates relief payment they are entitled to receive from local authorities because of a critical misunderstanding.

In the Spring Budget of 2017 the Government provided £300 million for local councils to distribute as a new revaluation discretionary rates relief scheme for hard pressed businesses over four years. £170m being for the 2017 / 2018 financial year

Ian Sloan (pictured right), principal of Bankier Sloan, based in Moreton-in-Marsh, maintains that the required criteria set by many local authorities for claiming the relief are flawed leaving businesses needlessly out of pocket.

Mr Sloan, who advises clients on commercial property issues including sales, lettings, acquisitions and business rates, published the first ever national report on the implementation of the Discretionary Business Rates Revaluation Scheme, which was sent to all local authorities and hundreds of councillors around the country, in December 2017: www.centre-p.co.uk/Discretionary_Revaluation_2017_Business_Rates_Relief.pdf 

This prompted an investigation by betterRetailing.com which reported that of 120 local authorities they examined nearly half were using the incorrect criteria for making business rate relief payments.

Mr Sloan explained: "Many councils have used as their main criteria a £200,000 rateable value limit as their upper limit (for rate relief) and are only considering giving relief to businesses facing an increase of more than 12.5 per cent believing incorrectly these figures to be the "guidelines" from central government."

And time is rapidly running out for the first of the annual payments over the four year period that the scheme operates.

"Some councils have targeted underspends of hundreds of thousands of pounds, which is really sad as it is free money given to councils aimed at supporting local businesses," said Ian Sloan. "If it is not distributed by 1st April the money is lost to the local community."

Mr Sloan has spent the past year campaigning to get the system fixed and some of the local authorities he has contacted, including Cornwall Council, Liverpool, Cherwell, and even as late as this week Oxford City Council have re-written their published criteria which allows councils to make payments to assist more businesses.

He said: "As a result of our report many councils have rewritten their schemes, appreciating that their original criteria were bound to generate a substantial under-spend of free Government money aimed at helping local businesses.

"Our advice to Punchline readers is that if they suffered any increase in business rates payable between 2016/2017 and 2017/2018 financial years, write to your local Gloucestershire council immediately, and stage your claim before close of business on Thursday (tomorrow) requesting some relief from the increase.

"We believe that a number of Gloucester District council will have surplus money under this scheme. Time will tell; make your claim now/ today before the financial year ends. If your district council has under-spent they may be in a position to distribute surplus funds. They will only however ever be able to give money to businesses that saw an increase in their rates payable last April."

Bankier Sloan have also published their annual tables relating to the on-going, and totally different, Small Business Rates Relief Scheme this can be found here: www.centre-p.co.uk/Small_Business_Rates_Relief_2018_2019.pdf 

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