Chancellor urged to return tax rebates to businesses

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has been urged to return billions of pounds worth of tax rebates to businesses to help aid cash flow “before it is too late”.

The British Retail Consortium  (BRC) has said that such a move would be a “vital lifeline” for businesses across the country in light of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. 

Ratings specialist Altus Group has said that since the 2017 business rates revaluation began, £4.1bn of gross business rates revenue has been held in reserve by local authorities. 

The revenue has reportedly been held by councils in order to cover the costs of successful appeals, protecting local government finances against losses. 

Alex Probyn, Altus Group’s UK president of expert services, said: “On the assumption that the new system of appeal was designed to only attract meritorious appeals, and with settlement levels very low, there are now significant and substantial funds held by Councils earmarked and reserved for tax rebates back to business.”

Dominic Curran, BRC  property adviser, said: “In these exceptional circumstances the government should settle all outstanding business rates appeals without question and pay back the money claimed by ratepayers. It would offer a vital lifeline for many retailers.

“It is unacceptable that billions of pounds were sat in councils’ reserves doing nothing at this time of national crisis.” 

He added: “It is money that has already been collected to cover business rate appeals. Many of these businesses may not even be around in a few months to receive it unless the chancellor acts now.”

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