Reaction to Business Rates announcements in the Budget

12 March 2020

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The Chancellor of the Exchequer yesterday announced a substantial additional scheme of business rate relief for businesses in the retail and leisure sectors in England.

Businesses with a rateable value of less than £51,000 will be eligible for full relief from rates for the year 2020/21.

The measure applies to shops, cinemas, restaurants, museums, art galleries, theatres, caravan parks, gyms, small hotels and nightclubs.

The Chancellor is conscious of the impact of the coronavirus epidemic on the hospitality section.

He also announced yet another review of the business rate system as a whole with the conclusions published in the autumn. The last review and report was produced by a Treasury Select Committee in October 2019!

Furthermore, £3,000 cash grants are being promised to 700,000 small businesses with rateable values below £15,000.

Additional rate relief available to pubs will increase from £1,000 to £5,000.

However there is a sting in the tail. Larger retail and leisure chains may not benefit from the rates holiday due to the state aid rules cap on the amount attached to the relief a business can claim over three years. Some firms have already reached the limit as a result of rate relief claimed in previous years.

Clearly this is a substantial package of aid which should be commended and will be very well received.

However, these measures only apply to England. We understand the Welsh Government will be consulting business organisations this week before announcing its conclusions and any additional business rate reliefs.

Cooke & Arkwright have been providing rating valuation advice to The Welsh Rugby Union Limited (“WRU”) and Millennium Stadium plc for many years. They were recently successful in achieving substantial reductions in the assessments of the Millennium Stadium, covering both the 2005 and 2010 rating list. These negotiated reductions yielded savings of c.£3.5m which, crucially, allows the WRU to re-invest in rugby throughout Wales. They advise the WRU across the group portfolio including the National Centre of Excellence in the Vale of Glamorgan. The valuation issues across the WRU portfolio are complex requiring a high level of understanding of the funding and finances of professional sport in Wales. Cooke & Arkwright’s experience and understanding of these issues and application to the rating valuation have yielded these substantial negotiated reductions. The WRU and the Millennium Stadium entrust our work to organisations with the required levels in experience and expertise in dealing with these complex issues. I am glad to say we have this expertise in Wales. I would have no hesitation in recommending ratepayers making use of this Welsh based expertise.

Steve Phillips, Group Finance Director, Welsh Rugby Union Group