A few days ago the The Non-Domestic Rating (Small Business Rate Relief) (England) (Amendment) Order 2015 was passed. We have not seen any publicity for it and to date council and .gov websites have not been updated and as usual the awareness of this relief for small businesses will probably remain low.
A small business with a single premises and business rates of less than £12,000 can obtain relief subject to completing an application form (and meeting the conditions). 100% relief is available if the rateable value is under £6000 (i.e. no rates are payable). Councils are still known to issue liability orders to enforce payment of business rates that are not due (for want of the application form) and historically have not been quick to publicise the availability or existence of this relief. A conservative initiative the Small Business Rate Relief (Automatic Payment) Bill was not adopted, but sought to ensure as the name suggests that the relief was automatically applied to eligible businesses (councils already have all the information to calculate which companies are eligible). Parliamentary discussions illustrated that around £400 million of this relief was unclaimed because few know about it – even my accountants didn’t know it existed! This automatic payment bill if passed would have made application of the relief by councils automatic, which could well have been far cheaper for councils (who would not have to process forms), and offer the support small businesses need, and significant savings.
It is a great shame and injustice that the automatic payment bill was not passed but good news for small business that the relief program has been extended for another year. Spread the word.