Unexpected cash giveaway for SMEs, but nothing for large retailers

The measure

A number of temporary measures have been introduced to support businesses impacted by COVID-19. The business rates retail discount will temporarily be increased to 100%, and be extended to the leisure and hospitality sectors.

Additionally, any businesses eligible for small business rates relief will get a £3,000 cash grant.

The previously announced £1,000 business rates discount for pubs with a rateable value of below £100,000 will be increased to £5,000.

The Chancellor also announced a “fundamental review of business rates”, which will be concluded in time for the Autumn Budget and should include major changes to the current system of transitional relief. In particular the abolition of downward phasing - the gradual decrease of rating liabilities over a number of years following a revaluation.


Who will be affected?

All shops, cinemas, restaurants, and music venues with a rateable value of less than £51,000 will benefit from the 100% discount. The Chancellor has extended this to also include leisure and hospitality venues: museums, art galleries, theatres, caravan parks, gyms, small hotels, B&Bs, guest houses, sports clubs, night clubs and club houses.

Businesses eligible for small business rates relief will benefit from the £3,000 cash injection.


When will the measure come into effect?

The rate reductions will be temporary and be in effect from 1 April 2020 to 31st March 2021. 

Our view

This will be of significant benefit for the smaller retailers but there will be no benefit for retailers with larger stores, many of which are suffering with large business rate bills.

The review of business rates is to be welcomed especially if it seeks to address the competitive advantage online retailers have over more traditional bricks and mortar retailers.