Offices set for business rates write-off after appeal

UK businesses could save almost £500m after an interim ruling on business rate rebates.

When restrictions were announced in March 2020 to help stop the spread of Covid-19, Chancellor Rishi Sunak said that retail, leisure and hospitality businesses in England would not have to pay business rates for the 2020 to 2021 tax year.

Supermarkets were also granted business rates relief, although Tesco, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, Asda, Aldi and Lidl have agreed to repay a total of £1.9bn.

Offices that stood empty as workers were urged to work from home were still expected to pay their full rate.

Around 150,000 businesses appealed, citing a material change in circumstances, an adviser close to the negotiations told City A.M.

The Valuation Office Agency has now agreed to write off a combined £481m in business rates. Offices that appealed their bills can have a 25% rebate, the agency said.

“Understanding the impact of the ongoing pandemic on rateable values is a complex legal and valuation issue,” a spokeswoman for the Valuation Office Agency told BBC News. “We are working to resolve these cases as quickly and efficiently as we can.”