The government announced a reduction of one-third to business rates for properties with a rateable value below £51,000 which are classified as retail premises; these will typically be shops, pubs, restaurants and cafes.
The reduction would benefit any occupier of premises within the prescribed category, including businesses which occupy multiple retail premises, if some of the sites are valued below the threshold but any relief obtained by multiple occupiers will be limited by the EU state aid rules.
Businesses with premises with a rateable value of £15,000 and below already benefit from existing reliefs or exemptions and so occupiers of retail premises below this threshold will see less benefit from this announcement than occupiers of more valuable sites.
The government states that the reduction will be effective from 1 April 2019 and will last for two years.
This will bring some welcome relief to hard-pressed retail occupiers, many of whom have been experiencing challenging trading conditions. It does appear that many of the challenges facing retail occupiers represent long term structural trends and so they will be keen to understand what the position will be after the two year duration of the reduction announced.