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Colliers urges Treasury to help smaller businesses in serviced offices who may be missing out on much needed grants

03 04 20 business rates offices

Business Rates experts offer alternative solutions so thousands of businesses don’t miss out.

Business rates experts at Colliers International are calling the Treasury to introduce a flexible policy towards many smaller businesses who may not currently be able to access recently announced Government grants, due to the nature of how they pay their business rates bills in serviced offices. It is estimated that the country’s small business owners could be missing out on £100 million of vital support.

Last week the Government announced help to businesses with their running costs, using the business rates system as a model upon which to allocate grants. A cash grant of £10,000 was made immediately available for small businesses with a Rateable Value of £15,000 and under, whatever sector they might be in. These are effectively smaller businesses eligible for Small Business Rates Relief or Rural Rate Relief and include many office occupiers.

The problem comes for some smaller business who rent space in serviced offices where the business usually pays for one fixed all-inclusive monthly service agreement to their office provider to cover rent, rates, service charges etc. The operator claims the small business rates on behalf of the business. For many of these businesses the operator will know exactly what proportion of rates each tenant is liable for (and thus can claim relief on)- but in some cases a more generic approach is taken. In other cases, the operator or the VOA (the government body that assesses business rates liability) has not yet split the assessments of the overall property into individual businesses space units or was in the process of doing so prior to the Covid-19 outbreak. 

Colliers estimate that there could be 10,000 such smaller businesses in serviced offices who have no established individual rating assessment, and as things currently stand, such businesses are not able to claim the much-needed grants. Colliers believe this represents about 5% of the small business market.

John Webber, Head of Business Rates at Colliers International, who handle about 90% of the businesses in the serviced operating sector said, “In deciding to allocate grants based on RVs,  the government was aware that about 5% of smaller businesses, who are in serviced offices might lose out, but the decisions had to be made quickly and support announced as soon as possible. There is no criticism of the government; it acted with speed, but it must acknowledge that this is a big problem.”

“Now that we are seeing some of the fall out for these small businesses located in co-working and serviced office space, we request the Treasury to show some flexibility in its approach to this issue. We need the Treasury to inform the Billing Authority who are handling the grants that such small businesses are an exceptional case and allow us to illustrate who should be eligible for the grants, on a building by building basis. We believe we would be able to do this quickly, enabling such companies to claim their grants they so desperately need.”

He continued, “These are torrid times for businesses, many of whom are struggling to stay solvent, and are desperately in need of the grants on offer. We have already started to petition the Treasury and we hope that the spirit of support and common sense that the government has already shown to business, is extended here. We at Colliers will be doing everything in our power to make sure both our clients and their tenants are looked after and this issue is resolved as quickly as possible."

Richard Morris, UK CEO of IWG, the world’s largest flexible workspace operator, added, “Some of our small business customers have told us that they are struggling to claim their grants, and we want to help. We support Colliers proposal to the Treasury to help identify those companies who have so far fallen through the gap and ensure they receive this vital support.” 

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John Webber

Head of Rating



I have over 35 years’ experience in the rating industry and lead a 135 plus rating team at Colliers.  When I took over responsibility for the team in 2005, it consisted of only a dozen people and has now grown into one of the leading rating advisory teams in the country.  I am a member of Colliers' UK Management Executive as well as sitting on the company’s Balance in Business Committee. 

I am regularly called upon by the national media to give my views on a range of business rates issues and I am involved in lobbying MPs/ministers and senior civil servants on business rates matters.

I started my career in the Valuation Office Agency in Kidderminster.  I joined Gerald Eve in 2000 where I spent 10 years before moving to Gooch Webster (now Colliers). I sit on the National Retail Panel of Rating Surveyors Association which provides guidance on how the RSA town committees work with the VOA and valuation matters.  I have also held the postion as Chair of the RICS Rating Diploma Committee having passed the prestigious qualification in 2014. I currently sit on the Rating Surveyors Association National Committee .

Along with Philip Harrison we founded 'Accurates' in 2007, the Collier's Compliance and Audit team, which although forms an integral part of the Rating team is now a leading brand in its own right.

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Hannah Zitren

Associate Director

Marketing & Communications


I am responsible for media relations and generating coverage in top tier broadcast and print media. I work across a range of Colliers’ UK & Pan-EMEA business lines advising on their strategic and tactical PR needs.

My role includes:

·         Developing and executing PR plans for the various business lines to help promote their key messages across all aspects of the media - print, broadcast and social.

·          Media evaluation and reporting objectives, targets and successes across the business.

·         Reputation management and crisis management.

·         Media training.

·         Media engagement: setting up meetings with top tier media and various internal spokespeople to continuously expand and build a presence with property and vertical media network.

·         Consistently delivering service excellence, meeting with business heads of a regular basis and trying to influence the research as much as possible to ensure our content has a strong enough news hook.

·         Key campaigns that I work on include MIPIM; MAPIC; REVO; Midsummer Retail Report; IHIF; Cities of Influence in addition to a host of all alternative property sector research reports.

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