What reforms to business rates mean for firms in England

Business Rates

 

 

Overdue reforms to business rates in England were announced in last month's Autumn Budget 2021. Chancellor Rishi Sunak has released the details of a report outlining the reforms. Here are the key points from the reforms, which will apply for the 2022/23 tax year. 

 

 

Multiplier suspended for 12 months

The Chancellor has abandoned 2022's planned annual increase in business rates for all firms in England for the second consecutive year.

 

This means that from 1 April 2022 until 31 March 2023, the business rates multipliers will be frozen at 49.9p and 51.2p, rather than being increased with inflation.

 

The business rates multiplier usually determines this yearly rise and is tied to September's inflation rate, as measured by the Consumer Prices Index.

 

That would've led to a 3.1% increase for 2022/23, hammering many COVID-hit businesses that are still reeling from the effects of the pandemic.

 

In conjunction with the existing small business rates relief, Sunak said the move meant more than 90% of all retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in England would see a discount of at least half.

 

Business rates in these sectors have already been reduced during the 2021/22 tax year, following the rates holiday announced during the pandemic.

 

More frequent revaluations

The frequency of business rates revaluations will take place every three years instead of every five, starting in 2023.

 

This is when the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) adjusts the rateable value of business properties to reflect changes in the property market.

 

The most recent revaluation came into effect in England and Wales on 1 April 2017, based on rateable values from 1 April 2015.

 

At a revaluation, all properties are given a new rateable value and the aforementioned business rates multipliers are revised.

 

With these becoming more regular, they should theoretically better reflect changing market conditions.

 

Rates reprieve for hardest-hit sectors

Thousands of retail, hospitality and leisure firms in England will receive a short-term business rates reprieve in 2022/23.

 

The Chancellor announced a temporary 50% cut in their business rates, up to a maximum of £110,000 per business.

 

Up to 400,000 businesses in these sectors - including pubs, music venues, cinemas, restaurants, hotels, theatres, and gyms - stand to benefit next year.

 

In conjunction with the existing small business rates relief, Sunak said the move meant more than 90% of all retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in England would see a discount of at least half.

 

Business rates in these sectors have already been reduced during the 2021/22 tax year, following the rates holiday announced during the pandemic.

 

Improvement relief & others

From April 2023, all businesses - not just those in retail and hospitality - will be able to make improvements to their premises without having to pay extra business rates for 12 months.

 

This means that where eligible improvements to an existing property increase the rateable value, the occupying business will get 12 months' relief from the higher bills.

 

The Government will consult on how best to implement this relief, which will take effect in 2023.

 

The reforms also include a new relief for businesses that invest in green technologies, such as solar panels and heat pumps.