Business rates relief for SMEs is ‘likely’ to continue into 2024/25. John Webber explains why this isn’t so good in the long run

Business rates relief for small and medium-sized businesses is likely to be extended beyond April 2024, according to The Times.

Eligible businesses currently get 75 per cent off business rates bills for the 2023/24 billing year. This means the most you can get in relief for each billing year is capped at £110,000 per business.

Industry onlookers say that the government is likely to renew the relief for at least another year in the Autumn Budget, if not before, to sidestep ‘cliff-edge change.’

John Webber, head of business rates at Colliers, believes that the timing is key here: “I think people are saying that, because there’s the perception that as we are entering an election year, it will be highly unlikely to take those reliefs away.

“There’s clearly a lot of pressure coming from the British Retail Consortium and that seems to have started quite early. If you’re a betting man, you would probably think that there’s probably ‘odds on’ that it will be retained,” he told Small Business.

Over the years, the government has held numerous consultations and reviews into business rate reform. Even after firm recommendations, the government hasn’t brought about any real change.

Reliefs seem to be a sticking plaster for a bigger problem, ready to be pushed on to the next administration. “If you have business rates at 51 pence, or 51 per cent of the rental value, you have to end up giving a myriad of reliefs – be it small business relief, some retail relief or rural relief, or whatever relief it might be. You have to keep giving reliefs because the headline rate of the tax is just too high,” said Webber.

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