A treasury minister has suggested that further business rates help could be on the way in the chancellor's Budget next month.
Financial secretary to the Treasury Jesse Norman (pictured), who last week said that there were "no current plans" to extend the VAT cut, has told councils that they should "consider issuing business rates bills after the chancellor has set out his plan at the Budget" on 3 March, saying that "it is in the public interest to avoid any potential confusion for businesses and to avoid the cost of having to re-bill businesses in light of any measures that may be included in the Budget".
Councils, as billing authorities, would normally be expected to start issuing and sending out annual business rates bills this month ahead of the new financial year which starts on 1 April.
The Treasury, attempting to negate the economic impact of the coronavirus, wrote off business rates bills for the current financial year, which runs from 1 April 2020 to 31 March 2021, to the tune of £10.13b, fully exempting 358,264 occupied retail, leisure and hospitality properties in England, according to real estate adviser Altus Group.
Robert Hayton, UK president at Altus Group, said: "If the end of the pandemic is indeed in sight, it has never been more important than now to ensure that viable businesses are supported adequately during these final months. The chancellor has to avoid a cliff-edge through withdrawing reliefs too early but he also cannot risk repeating the mistakes of the past where support was arbitrary rather than targeted to those most in need."
Photo: Richard Townshend Photography