Retailers face business rates relief delay due to computer glitch

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Business rates relief delayed due to computer glitch
More than 75 Councils use their OPENRevenues system to streamline the administration of non-domestic rates.
// Hundreds of retailers due to receive business rates relief set to face a delay
// This is due to issues with some councils’ computer systems
// 75 local authorities told by software providers that changes to bills cannot be made until after the new financial year

Hundreds of retailers that were expecting to receive some relief on their business rates bills will now face a delay due to a glitch with some councils’ computer systems.

According to The Times, 75 local authorities have been told by their software provider that changes to bills cannot be made until after the new financial year.

Changes to business rates reliefs that the government wants to make from April 1, for the financial year 2020/21, will not be introduced in time by some councils.

During the General Election campaign last year, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced plans to increase the current business rates discount for small retailers from one-third off to 50 per cent off.


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Nine out of 10 independent retailers would have qualified for the relief, which is available to businesses with a rateable value of below £51,000.

However, with new business rates bills set to start hitting doormats later this month, councils that use Civica software have been told that the firm is currently unable to bring in the changes in time for annual billing.

More than 75 Councils use their OPENRevenues system to streamline the administration of non-domestic rates.

Last week the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government told councils to “act promptly to ensure businesses receive the increased support in their rates bills at the start of the financial year”.

Robert Hayton, Head of UK business rates at the real estate advisory firm Altus Group, pointed to to similar delays in 2017, during the implementation of £300 million of discretionary reliefs.

“Tax demands can be manually adjusted by councils so it is ridiculous that small firms in England will have to wait to receive the help they have been promised,” he said.

“Assurances must be given that enforcement for non payment will not take place until the reliefs have finally been put in place.”

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