Business rates relief hold-up hitting SME cash flow

Thousands of small businesses due financial relief to help them overcome business rates increases are still waiting on local authorities to distribute the funds.

These firms were hit hard by the revaluation in April and were promised funding, yet 46 local authorities have yet to start allocating their regions' share.

As a result, many businesses that have faced up to severe cash flow issues are yet to receive any of the £300 million worth of relief that was pledged.

The Federation of Small Businesses chairman Mike Cherry has slammed those authorities that are 'yet to lift a finger to help their local businesses', among which are some with the largest financial allocations.

'It's completely unacceptable that small firms in these areas are being put in jeopardy by this lethargic attitude,' he said.

While some firms benefitted from the rates revaluation in April - the first time in seven years it took place - others saw their business rates skyrocket.

The commercial tax on property brings in the region of £29 billion annually, yet for businesses operating on tight margins, the increases earlier in 2017 have proved tough to deal with.

According to business rates advisory firm Gerard Eve, an estimated 145,000 'of the hardest-hit businesses' could be affected by the delays.

Mr Cherry has called on authorities to support small businesses and allocate the finance, amid fears that funding that is not distributed may not be available after March 2018.

Gerald Eve's Head of Business Rates Jerry Schurder meanwhile labelled the delays as 'outrageous', especially as some businesses have faced a heightened insolvency risk as their cash flow has been hit.

A range of alternative finance options exist to support businesses looking for funding and to meet their financial requirements.

However, a spokesman for the Local Government Association has claimed that 85% of councils have distributed their share in what has been a 'complex exercise compounded by delays out of their control'.


By Phil Smith


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