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Business rates revaluation is postponed

A business rates revaluation was on Wednesday postponed, in a move to help reduce uncertainty for firms that have seen income hurt by Covid-19 disruption.

Trade association UKHospitality was among the chorus of voices to today welcome the government’s decision.

Legislation had been introduced to bring the next revaluation forward by one year from 2022 to 2021, but communities secretary Robert Jenrick said this will no longer take place next year.

Ministers want to ensure companies have more certainty during the virus crisis, which has seen income disappear for a number of retailers and pub owners due to sites having to close during the lockdown.

Jenrick said: “Now is the time for us to continue to focus on supporting businesses affected by the pandemic.”

He added that the government is continuing work on a review of business rates, “with the key aims of reducing the overall burden on businesses, improving the current business rates system, and considering more fundamental changes in the medium-to-long term”.

Companies have long complained that business rates, a tax on commercial properties, are outdated and a huge burden for retailers and restaurant owners already grappling with rising wage bills and weaker consumer confidence. Now they also face disruption from the coronavirus outbreak.

Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality, today said: “Delaying is a pragmatic move at such a demanding time for businesses. It is vital that the revaluation occurs afresh after the crisis to reflect the impact of Covid-19 on commercial property costs. Given the length of uncertainty for hospitality, the Government should extend its business rates holiday for the sector through 2021.”

Gerry Biddle, business rates lead at Deloitte, said the postponement “is welcome news for approximately 600,000 business properties in Greater London. Property values as at 1st April 2019 will no longer be used and businesses will likely benefit from a recalculation at a later date.”

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