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Business rates relief extended with £1.5 billion fund

The government is to extend business rates relief with a £1.5 billion fund targeted at those businesses unable to benefit from the current coronavirus (COVID-19) support.

Retail, hospitality and leisure businesses have not been paying any rates during the pandemic as part of a 15 month-long relief which runs to the end of June this year. However, many businesses ineligible for reliefs have been appealing for discounts on their bills, arguing that the pandemic represented a 'material change of circumstance' (MCC).

The government says that market-wide economic changes to property values, such as from COVID-19, can only be properly considered at general rates revaluations, and it will therefore be legislating to rule out COVID-19-related MCC appeals.

Instead, the government will provide a £1.5 billion pot across the country that will be distributed according to which sectors have suffered most economically, rather than on the basis of decreases in property values. It says this will ensure the support is provided to businesses in England in the fastest and fairest way possible.

Rain Newton-Smith, Chief Economist at the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), said: 'Relief on business rates through the crisis has offered a real fillip to retailers, hospitality and leisure struggling day-in, day-out.

'This latest relief will now help some of the forgotten supply chain businesses hit indirectly by restrictions and offers more support to the devolved nations, so credit to the government for listening to the concerns of business.'