U-turn on discretionary relief welcomed

Claire Dodd

Claire Dodd

25 April 2017

Licensees hit by huge business rates increases will be able to claim payments from the discretionary business rates relief scheme as planned.

Payments from the £300m fund, which was announced in the March budget, were put in doubt last week after the Department for Communities said the relief scheme would be delayed by the upcoming General Election.

However, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Sajid Javid MP performed an apparent U-turn yesterday, announcing in the Commons that the fund would go ahead without delay.

The measure means that local authorities are free to start using the scheme which sees a £300m fund set aside for discretionary relief on individual hard cases.

The ALMR welcomed yesterday’s confirmation with CEO Kate Nicholls, saying: 'The unexpected General Election immediately raised questions about whether recently announced Budget measures, such as the discretionary relief scheme, would go ahead.

'Pubs and restaurants across the UK are suffering disproportionately under the new business rates bills, so the ALMR was prompt in calling for a continued commitment to pledges made in the Budget.

'It is reassuring that the Government has listened and acted, providing a measure of stability and certainty for our members.'

However, Nicholls described the fund as mere 'fire-fighting' saying the business rates system needs 'fundamental reform'.

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