Small firms still waiting on £300m in ‘emergency’ business rates support, 300 days after launch

FSB
Mike Cherry, National Chairman of the FSB

New research from Gerald Eve indicates that over 40% of the £175 million allocated to councils for the year ending March 2018 from the Chancellor’s £300 million business rates hardship fund is yet to be passed on to local firms. In response to this, Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) National Chairman, Mike Cherry, said:

“It’s hard to believe that small firms hit by last year’s bruising business rates revaluation are still waiting on what, at the time, was dubbed ‘emergency’ support more than 300 days and 10 months after it was launched.

“The small business community was indeed facing an emergency this time last year. Our research showed that one in five firms facing business rates hikes were planning to sell, hand-on or close their business. The Chancellor’s £300 million hardship fund offered a small glimmer of hope. For many, it’s proved to be false hope.

“What’s really shocking is that in some cases you have the Government confirming that councils have emergency schemes in place, when in reality they’ve given out very little, and in some instances none of the money they’ve been allocated.

“There is no guarantee that councils will have access to their year one allocation once we get to April.

“Many local authorities have designed great emergency support schemes, enabling them to get their allocation out to the firms that need it months ago. If some can get their houses in order, they all can.”