Government sets deadline for late business rates relief payments
The Government has been forced to step in to ensure thousands of small business get the business rate relief payments they are due.
In March, Chancellor Phillip Hammond promised millions of pounds of support to businesses hit by the biggest hikes in their tax bill. Many are still waiting for the money to arrive, partly because councils’ software has not been updated to issue new bills.
The Government has now set a deadline of 21 August for the three main software providers – Capita, Civica and Northgate Public Services - to provide the necessary updates to councils.
Local government minister Marcus Jones has also called the firms into Whitehall for talks.
Civica said: "We are working to implement the necessary updates as quickly as possible in conjunction with both DCLG and with our customers.” Northgate said that the update would be available as soon as it was ready, and Capita said its clients had been offered a workaround solution ahead of an update.
The Government has set aside £25m this year to pay for rates relief, which will ensure that business rates bills will not go up by more than £50 a month.
Many councils resisted making payments as soon as possible because they wanted published guidance from the government – but ministers insist that they did not wait for the formal guidance.
A DCLG spokesman said: "We've been clear that local authorities should take urgent steps to make sure small businesses benefit from the funding that we announced at the Budget in April.
"There are councils that have pressed ahead and issued revised bills. Others have chosen to wait for software updates to deliver this particular scheme and we've taken steps to make sure business get this relief as quickly as possible."
Businesses should start receiving their new bills by the beginning of September.