Thousands of small shops to miss out on government funding
More than 3,650 small firms, including retail stores, pubs, restaurants and other types of leisure units in England are each set to lose out on £15,000 of government grant funding, a new report has found.
The government has pledged to provide businesses affected by the coronavirus lockdown cash grants of up to £25,000 per property, but an anomaly in the design of the scheme could see thousands of small retailers receive less than they are supposed to receive.
The grant funding scheme will be administered by local authorities, with qualifying thresholds aligned to the small business rates relief scheme.
Altus Group said small business rates relief means that those properties with a rateable value of between £12,001 to £15,000 in England have previously seen their bills, before the rates holiday, tapered and going down gradually from 100% to 0% subject to any discounts. For these properties, including those with a rateable value below £12,000 that receive a full exemption from business rates, the cash grant has been set at £10,000.
Small businesses with a rateable value over £15,000 will receive grants of £25,000, but small properties with a rental value of exactly £15,000 are at the threshold at which normal business rates would have become payable with the tapering having been completely extinguished.
This means these properties are now being constrained to the lower grant funding despite having had no benefit at all from small business rates relief since the 2017 revaluation came into effect.
“This is an anomaly and obvious unfairness in the design of the grant funding scheme. It is particularly harsh on those businesses occupying a property with a rateable value of exactly £15,000,” said Robert Hayton, Head of UK business rates at Altus Group.
“With thresholds there will always be winners and losers and these are found at the upper end too. In this case, the problem could be substantially alleviated if the government also tapered the £10,000 and £25,000 grants on rateable values between £12,000 to £15,000 to acknowledge the tax contributions made towards local services.”
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