Current Affairs

Calls for ‘discretionary business rates relief’ amid Coronavirus outbreak

Colliers International has called on the UK Government to consider and to fund a system of “discretionary rate relief” for businesses impacted by the Coronavirus.

The commercial real estate company said this is one of the measures that could “alleviate business pain” in this week’s Budget.

It added that against a background in which may see space “under-utilised”, as shoppers keep away from stores and restaurants, warehousing for imported goods stay empty and an increasing amount of office staff staying at home, Colliers believes the Budget would be a good opportunity for the Government to provide this emergency relief.

Currently “discretionary rate relief” can be granted under Section 44A of the Local Government Finance Act 1988, but this is currently funded by the Billing Authority, (Local Authorities) who, given constraints already on local finances, are “reluctant to award”.

Colliers has suggested that the Government should take this under central control and support businesses “struggling” following coronavirus, with a discretion relief, centrally funded.

John Webber, head of business rates at Colliers, said: “Already we are starting to see the economic impact of Covid-19, with a falling stock market and some major cities in lock down.

“The impact on ordinary businesses could be huge, particularly those that run shops and restaurants, as customers stay at home.”

He added: “We urge the Government to look at measures to help support businesses and providing relief via business rates would be a good start- particularly if funded centrally.”

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