The government has ramped up efforts to speed up business rates relief schemes for small businesses, as thousands are still left without needed support promised in April.
Local government minister Marcus Jones has reportedly called software providers Capita, Civica and into Whitehall for talks.
As a result, they have been given a deadline of August 21 to provide councils with updated software, aimed at streamlining the process for rates relief.
The delays have been largely criticised as around 25,000 business face “cliff edge” rates rises, some jumping as much as 3000 per cent.
To counter this, Chancellor Philip Hammond set aside £25 million this year, promising businesses they would not see bills rise more the £50 a month.
However, councils complained of having no published guidance from the government allowing them to send out the relief money.
In an attempt to tackle the thousands of cases many chose to automate the process and requested a software update to make this possible, but this too has been struck by delays.
“It look a crescendo of outcry from small firms fearing for their livelihoods to get this relief, and it’s been disheartening to watch those very firms fear for their survival amidst a war of words from councils,” said Mark Rigby, the chief executive of the ratings agency CVS.
“The minister was right to intervene to bring certainty by imposing a deadline.”
The Department for Communities and Local Government said in response: “We’ve been clear that local authorities should take urgent steps to make sure small businesses benefit from the funding that we announced at the Budget in April.
“There are councils that have pressed ahead and issued revised bills. Others have chosen to wait for software updates to deliver this particular scheme and we’ve taken steps to make sure business get this relief as quickly as possible.”