Today, 25 March 2021, the government has announced it intends to change business rates legislation to rule out the possibility of using Material Change of Circumstance appeals to reduce rateable values, and hence liabilities, to reflect diminution in value of property occupied by ratepayers as a result of the Covid 19 crisis.
In place of the current appeal route the government is proposing a £1.5 billion scheme of relief for Local Authorities to distribute to non-retail or leisure ratepayers impacted by the Covid 19 crisis. The Material Change of Circumstance mechanism that previously existed has been estimated by various commentators to have had the potential to provide between £3 and £5 billion in compensation to ratepayers that currently do not receive any business rates relief. This appeal mechanism is now no longer available.
One advantage of the government’s proposal is that it should provide the relief in a more targeted manner more swiftly to those businesses that need it.
The government intends to introduce primary legislation to implement the appeal rule changes, in addition to the statutory instrument laid before Parliament today, “when parliamentary time allows”. The government will then introduce the compensation scheme once the primary legislation has come into force. This implies a significant delay before we know the details of the proposed scheme.
The government’s statement on this matter can be found at: https://questions-statements.parliament.uk/written-statements/detail/2021-03-25/hcws901
If you have any questions relating to the above or any other business rates matters, please contact Alan Vickery.