At the spring Budget, my Rt Hon Friend the Chancellor announced a £435 million package of support for ratepayers over the next four years following the 2017 business rate revaluation. Overall, the revaluation was revenue neutral with the majority of businesses seeing a fall in their rates.
The package of support announced at the Budget comprised three schemes: one that caps the annual bill increase for any ratepayer losing Small Business Rate Relief or Rural Rate Relief as a result of the revaluation to £600; a second that provides a £300 million fund for local authorities to distribute over four years to help hard-pressed businesses facing higher rates bills; and a third that gives a £1,000 discount to all pubs with a rateable value of less than £100,000. On top of this, from April 2017, the Government permanently doubled the rate of small business rate relief and increased the threshold for eligibility, meaning that 600,000 small businesses now pay no business rates at all.
All of these schemes are being delivered by local government and I am pleased to confirm that some local authorities have made significant progress towards implementation. The London Borough of Westminster has already rebilled eligible businesses under the pubs and supporting small business schemes. The consultation on Westminster’s discretionary scheme which will provide over £11 million in the first year alone has now closed. Formal approval to the scheme is due this week, with applications invited from this Friday.
Furthermore, some authorities have awarded relief to eligible ratepayers on all three schemes. For example, Leeds City Council has provided over £1.5 million in relief to over 3,600 ratepayers, including 50 per cent discounts on bill increases to 3,300 small and medium sized ratepayers under their discretionary scheme. Some smaller authorities have also made excellent progress. For example South Norfolk and Rutland councils have implemented all three schemes. Rutland County Council has provided almost £250,000 in relief to over 100 ratepayers to offset average rateable value increases of 13.5 per cent, and is awarding a discount of 26 per cent to eligible businesses.
The Government has been consistently clear that it expects local authorities to make rapid progress in helping business by implementing these relief schemes. Overall, however, despite various examples of good practice, the pace of providing relief to ratepayers has not been acceptable. I have written today to those authorities that have not fully implemented all three schemes asking them to rebill businesses that are set to benefit from relief as soon as possible. From Tuesday 3 October, I will publish a list of those authorities that have notified us that they have rebilled for each of the three relief schemes.
This statement has also been made in the House of Lords