// Thousands of retailers to lose out on £15,000 of government grant funding due to an “anomaly”
// 3657 high street business will only be able to receive £10,000 grants despite not receiving the previous benefit of small business rates relief
// But if these firms were to have their valuations just £1 higher, they would be able to receive a further £15,000 each
Thousands of small retailers in England are each set to lose out on £15,000 of government grant funding due to an “anomaly”, according to real estate experts.
The retailers are among more than 3650 small shops, pubs and restaurants that could be affected, experts at real estate advisory firm Altus Group have said.
An early payment of business rates totalling around £3.4 billion was made to councils last week to ensure that grants of up to £25,000 would get to businesses as soon as possible to help negate the economic impact of the coronavirus crisis.
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Businesses with a rateable value of more than £15,000 will be eligible for the full £25,000 grant.
Meanwhile, retailers with a value of £15,000 or less will only be eligible for £10,000 grants.
The government introduced the threshold as retailers valued below £15,000 had previously been eligible for small business rates relief.
However, this relief was tapered between £12,001 and £15,000, meaning that firms with a rateable value of £12,001 would have their rates reduced by 100 per cent, with the size of the cut reducing until those with a £15,000 valuation receive a zero per cent cut.
Altus Group said this meant there were thousands of companies with a valuation of exactly £15,000, which have previously received no small business rates relief, but will now be ineligible for the £25,000 grants.
It said government figures reveal 3657 high street business will only be able to receive £10,000 grants despite not receiving the previous benefit of small business rates relief.
Altus Group said that if these firms were to have their valuations just £1 higher, they would be able to receive a further £15,000 each, totalling £55 million for all firms.
“This is an anomaly and obvious unfairness in the design of the grant funding scheme,” Altus Group head of business rates Robert Hayton said.
“It is particularly harsh on those businesses occupying a property with a rateable value of exactly £15,000.
“With thresholds there will always be winners and losers and these are found at the upper end too.”
Nevertheless, all high street firms have had their business rates payments waived for the current financial year as part of the Treasury’s package to support firms in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.
A Treasury spokesman said: “The Chancellor has outlined an unprecedented package of measures to protect millions of people’s jobs and incomes as part of the national effort in response to coronavirus.
“That means retail, hospitality and leisure businesses will pay no business rates in 2020-21 and will receive grants on top of that to help them cover their bills.
“In addition to that the government is providing cash grants to businesses to pay 80 per cent of the cost of staff wages, up to a maximum of £2500.
“It also includes an enhanced Time to Pay offer to fit the specific impacts of Covid-19 to allow all individuals and businesses more time to pay tax bills.”
with PA Wires