All businesses need help, not just those in retail, leisure and hospitality sectors
Gerald Eve has called for the new business rates measures announced yesterday by the Chancellor to be applied across the board to ensure all firms receive assistance in the current crisis.
The year-long rates holiday, extended yesterday to properties of all sizes, applies to just the retail, leisure and hospitality sectors. But with the economic impacts of the pandemic expected to affect all areas of the economy, no firm should receive a business rates bill in 2020/21.
With coronavirus-related restrictions hitting not just consumer-facing business, the need for 100% rates relief is required for all sectors of the economy, including office occupiers, manufacturing and logistics firms, educational institutions and healthcare.
The shift to a rates holiday for all businesses would also remove the inevitable challenges over what exactly constitutes a retail, leisure or hospitality property. Guidance on this is expected shortly, but previous reliefs have seen arguments over property use types and eligibility.
Jerry Schurder, head of business rates at Gerald Eve, said: “In unprecedented circumstances, only unprecedented measures will do. The Government needs to tell every single company that they will pay no business rates for the next 12 months. The Chancellor said he will do “whatever it takes” – removing all rates liabilities would truly show him putting his money where his mouth is.
“While the extension of the rates holiday to all retail, leisure and hospitality properties is hugely welcome, it is clear that this can only be a start. Dealing with this virus is going to have an enormous impact on businesses in all sectors, and it is imperative 100% discount is applied to every single business for the next year.
“Waiving business rates for a year is an incredibly simple measure to implement, and will pay dividends immediately in terms of both cashflow and fixed costs for those businesses that are suffering. The additional cost, estimated to be less than a further £20 billion on the rates measures already announced, is small beer compared to the cost of these businesses going under.
“These are extraordinary times, demanding an extraordinary response from the Government. Extending the business rates holiday to all firms would be a huge measure offering genuine assistance. UK businesses have no time to lose.”