Business rate discretionary relief

Meeting: 
MQT on 2017-08-10
Session date: 
August 10, 2017
Reference: 
2017/3156
Question By: 
Gareth Bacon
Organisation: 
GLA Conservatives
Asked Of: 
The Mayor

Question

What pressure are you applying to the boroughs to ensure that they respond rapidly to the Government's proposals for a discretionary business rate relief fund, and that London councils make full and swift use of this fund?

Answer

Answer for Business rate discretionary relief

Answer for Business rate discretionary relief

Answered By: 
The Mayor

In the March Budget the Chancellor announced three relief schemes to support those ratepayers most adversely affected by the impact of the 2017 business rates revaluation:

       a scheme capping rises for small businesses losing eligibility for small business rate relief to £600 per annum for the next five years which will benefit around 5,000 small firms in the capital - mostly in inner London;

       a £1,000 one off discount for pubs with a rateable value below £100,000. This will benefit up to 3,000 pubs in the capital; and

       a local discretionary relief scheme to be administered and allocated by London boroughs and the Corporation of London individually subject to the requirement to consult on their schemes with the GLA. London has been awarded £124 million from the £300 million national pot over four years - of which £72.5 million is available in 2017-18.  London's allocation will drop to £35.2 million in 2018-19, £14.5 million in 2019-20 and to a mere £2 million by 2020-21.

Due to the need to update software, consult with ratepayers - a process delayed by the General Election - and recalculate bills there has been a regrettable delay in implementing these relief schemes locally and applying the necessary credits to ratepayer bills. But I do not hold London boroughs and the City of London responsible for these implementation delays.

While I welcome these relief schemes in so far as they go they were announced very late in the day by the Government after 2017-18 bills had been prepared by billing authorities - despite the fact that Ministers were well aware of the problems arising from the revaluation last autumn. The level of support provided for 2017-18 also equates to less than 1 per cent of the £8 billion being paid by London business ratepayers this year - and will therefore provide only limited and temporary support to offset the £1 billion plus increase in London rates bills following the revaluation.

The majority of boroughs have now published details on their local discretionary relief schemes and it is important that they proceed to implement those as soon as possible once the main software suppliers provide the necessary updates at the end of this month. The GLA is monitoring the implementation of these local schemes closely.

I will also be pushing for the administration of business rates to be fully devolved to London government prior to the next revaluation in 2022 similar to the arrangements already in place in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. We cannot allow the huge rises faced by London firms at the 2017 revaluation to be repeated again - and we could mitigate the impact of future revaluations if the Government fully devolved decisions over business rates to the Mayor and London boroughs.