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Give All Firms A 12-month rates holiday

Service: Business Rates | Contact: Jerry Schurder

The time has come to write off business rates bills for all firms, regardless of sector. Extraordinary times demand extraordinary measures.

As the scale and severity of the coronavirus pandemic becomes ever clearer, the time has come for radical action. Today, Gerald Eve is calling for the 100% rates discount announced by the Chancellor on Tuesday to be extended to firms in all sectors. Extraordinary times demand extraordinary measures.

The rates holiday for retail, leisure and hospitality businesses was a significant step by the Government, and will go a long way to help those companies facing the initial brunt of the disruption. But it is increasingly clear that the economic impact of coronavirus will be profound and for many firms existential. The Government has promised to do “whatever it takes”, and in our opinion that means writing off business rates bills for everyone in 2020/21.

There is something of the turkey voting for Christmas about this call. Much rating advice is undertaken on success related fees – if bills are zero we can’t lower them any further. But while cancelling rates for everyone may have an impact on our bottom line, we have no doubt that it would be the right thing to do.

There are many advantages to this approach. It is hard to imagine a quicker way of giving businesses better cashflow and working capital than tearing up the bills they have already received. The administration of it is simple, and the cost to the Exchequer is known; the additional £20 billion maximum it will cost (on top of the roughly £10 billion cost of the announced measures) is minimal in the overall cost of necessary Exchequer support. But it will be the difference between life and death for many companies.

No sector will be insulated from this crisis and it is time for the Government to recognise as much. All firms must know that they will face no rates bills in the coming year, and the sooner they are told this the better.


Jerry Schurder

Business Rates Policy Lead

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