UK: Colliers International has called for the government to introduce a three month or even six month business rates deterrent scheme to help businesses impacted by the coronavirus.
Following last week’s 2020 Budget, which has been criticised for the lack of support to larger businesses, many retail, hospitality and leisure businesses are now looking for urgent action.
The three month rates deterrent scheme would allow businesses a period to not pay business rates, which would eventually be paid back as times improve. The option to extend this to six months would be available if needed.
John Webber, head of business rates at Colliers, said: “We are in constant dialogue with our clients who are strong companies- but with footfall in retail centres ‘falling off a cliff ‘ and the hospitality sector seeing similar drops in trade, it is ridiculous that such large amounts of cash are being paid to the public purse when it could be used to safeguard jobs over the coming month . This three-month rate deferment would at least give businesses some breathing space to maintain their cash flow.”
“Given that we could be seeing one of the worst pandemics in our life time, with a devastating resulting economic impact as shoppers keep away from stores and restaurants, warehousing for imported goods stay empty and increasingly office staff stay at home, the government must introduce some emergency measures to support a wider section of business than it is currently proposing.”
In addition, Colliers believe that if the impact of coronavirus continues, businesses should also be able to claim a ‘material change of circumstance’ when appealing business rates bills. It is suggested that the government instruct the Valuation Office Agency to make immediate temporary reductions in the rateable value where footfall or turnover is impacted.
“The economic turmoil we are starting to see across the global economy and indeed our own economy, means we need to prepare for the impact as Covid-19 spreads,” continued Webber. “The Government can’t just support one section of our economy. It must look at wider measures to help all businesses, or the consequences of more administrations and job losses looks certain to continue.”
“We are facing an ‘Economic Battle of Britain. If [Boris Johnson] really wants to follow in the footsteps of our wartime leader then he must prove it.”