Treasury pushes business rates review back until autumn

A sign for Her Majesty’s Treasury (Chris Ratcliffe/PA) (PA Wire)
14:00pm, Fri 19 Feb 2021
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The Treasury has confirmed it is delaying the final report on its review of business rates until later this year.

It confirmed that it will now publish its findings from its fundamental review into the property tax until the autumn, when it expects there to be more economic certainty.

The major review of the business rates system was called by the Chancellor at last year’s Budget, with a call for evidence launched in July.

Responses from the call are now “being considered” by the Government, with plans for an interim report to be released on March 23.

Retail, hospitality and leisure operators are currently benefiting from a business rates holiday for the current financial year, which will end on March 31.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak (Aaron Chown/PA) (PA Archive)

Sector bosses have called for the £11 billion tax break to be extended for another year after the industry was battered by enforced closures due to the pandemic.

Kate Nicholls, chief executive of trade group UKHospitality, said: “The business rates system as it relates to hospitality has been broken for some time.

“It is an antiquated system of tax that bears almost no relation to the realities of business in the 21st Century. It needs addressing, so a delay in the review is obviously a disappointment.

“If it must be delayed, then it is absolutely vital that the Government uses the extra time to ensure it gets this right.”

Non-essential retail stores are currently shut due to the nationwide lockdown and are hoping to gain clarity over when they can reopen when the Prime Minister confirms the “road map to recovery” on Monday.

Retail bosses have also called on the Chancellor for a major overhaul of the rates system in order to put store-based business on “a level-playing field” with online retailers, who have seen strong sales growth during the pandemic and pay significantly lower rates.

On Thursday evening, Next boss Lord Simon Wolfson said rates for retailers on the high street should be cut by 35% with the commercial property tax increased for online rival warehouses instead.

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