Business Rates - Covid-19: New Legislation
The Government has announced a new discretionary fund of £1.5bn will be created to help businesses which have to date fallen outside of business rate relief measures brought in following the Covid-19 outbreak. The new fund will therefore potentially benefit office occupiers who were ineligible for the 24-month-long relief package which has to date focused on retail, hospitality and leisure businesses.
The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) will shortly be issuing further guidance: a Government Statement stated that Local Authorities will: “use their knowledge of their local businesses and the local economy to award dedicated support to those businesses who need it most. Funding will be allocated to councils taking into account the economic impact COVID-19 has had on specific sectors.”
The Government has also introduced legislation which will remove the ability to reflect any effect on Rateable Value resulting from a Material Change in Circumstances (MCC) relating to measures, or specifically, the physical effect of measures brought in to combat the virus.
This applies to all property types and, for the time being, relates only to England.
Primary legislation will be forthcoming to allow these measures to be backdated however, regulation has been introduced with immediate effect, as an addendum to Paragraph 2 of Schedule 6 to the Local Government Finance Act 1988, which deals with rating valuation assumptions and matters to be taken into account at the ‘Material Day’.
Consequently, any effect of the Covid-19 pandemic cannot be reflected in Rating assessments until the next revaluation, due to come into effect from 1 April 2023 and based on 1 April 2021 values.
If you are not already advised on such matters, please contact a member of the Matthews & Goodman’s Business Rates Advisory team and we would be happy to discuss this issue with you.