Businesses still not getting promised rates relief
New Government figures show that less than half of eligible English councils have begun allocating their share of the £300 million business rates hardship fund launched six months ago.
The data reveals that 16 English councils have not implemented any of the three business rates relief measures announced by chancellor Philip Hammond at the Spring Budget.
According to the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), the area worst affected by inaction is London, where the impact of April's revaluation has been greatest. A third of councils in the capital are yet to start sharing the almost £50 million they received from the hardship fund.
Mike Cherry, FSB national chairman, said: "Today's name and shame list is truly shocking. Thousands of small firms were left fearing for their futures after April's rates revaluation. Now we learn that many have received no support from local authorities despite being promised relief no less than six months ago.
"While those responsible have spent months playing the blame game, small firms have been trying to keep their heads above water. In London, where firms are most in need of help, you have councils sitting on £50 million of relief funding that is intended for desperate small businesses."
The Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR), which represents UK food and drinks businesses, says "hard-pressed pubs, restaurants, bars, nightclubs and cafés" in over 100 areas of England are not receiving the support they deserve from their local authority.
Kate Nicholls, ALMR chief executive, said: "The ALMR has been warning about the lack of relief flowing through for some time. Although most councils have shown some initiative … the anecdotal evidence we have received from businesses shows that very few are actually receiving the promised support. Discretionary relief distributed to local authorities to help support those businesses hardest hit is not flowing as freely as it should either."
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