Yesterday’s Summer Statement set out a plan for jobs but unsurprisingly stayed silent in terms of business rates – although some would argue the two are interlinked.
There was no mention of progressing the review promised by the Chancellor at the Spring Budget in March, nor any word on a potential extension of the enhanced retail relief for 2021/22, the final year before the next Revaluation -postponed from 2021 to 2022.
Owners and occupiers are eagerly awaiting clarification as to the antecedent valuation date for the next Revaluation, which should be based upon emerging post COVID-19 rents which are falling within those sectors and areas most adversely affected.
It is clear that the Government’s response to coronavirus is moving through three phases. In the first phase, which began in March, the Government announced social distancing measures and ordered businesses to close trying to halt the spread of the disease. Economic measures were introduced that, in relation to business rates, enhanced the retail discount to over £10bn providing a business rates holiday for all retail, leisure and hospitality. Over £12bn in grant funding was also provided, pegged to Rateable Values below £51,000 for the aforementioned sectors, as well as those in receipt of small business rate relief.
Four months on, as the economy begins to reopen, the Summer Statement was the second phase of the economic response focusing upon employment.
The third phase, the rebuilding phase, is set to come later in the year with the promise of an Autumn Budget and Spending Review. It is at this juncture we expect to hear more on the plan for business rates tax ahead of the start of the next financial year on 1st April 2021.
The review timetable has been pushed back as a result of lockdown – the call for evidence in Spring 2020 hasn’t taken place, making the review in Autumn 2020 impossible. That said, the Government is likely to think the pressure is off somewhat with next year’s Revaluation postponed and the rates holiday this financial year.