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COVID-19: Colliers Welcomes Chancellor's Emergency Measures

18 03 20 business rates

Little reprieve for offices or manufacturing sectors- or for landlords with empty properties says Colliers.

The Chancellor announced a massive package to help businesses suffering from the impact of COVID-19 yesterday which has been warmly welcomed by those in the retail and hospitality industries.

According to John Webber Head of Business Rates at Colliers International, “At last some news we have been waiting for. The Chancellor said that the 12-month business rates holiday will be extended to all firms in the retail, leisure and hospitality sectors, whatever their size. He has also promised up to £25,000 funding grants for smaller businesses in the sector and has introduced a package of £330 billion of guaranteed loans (15%of GDP) for any business that needs it. The Government seems to be putting its hands in its pockets and finally delivering what we and our retail and hospitality clients have been calling for – support for all in the sector- not just the smaller players.”

Webber’s praise for the Chancellor, does however hold some caveats. Some business rates experts have pointed out that State Aid restrictions might apply to companies receiving the amounts they need. The EU has said that COVID-19 measures should be limited to euro 500,000 per compan, which could prove to be an impediment to the 100% business rates relief extending as far as the Chancellor intends.

Webber suggests that businesses who are worried they might fall into this category simply don’t pay their business rates bills when the bills fall at the beginning of April and deal with any fall out later.

“It’s a matter of survival or breaking point for many companies. We are advising our clients to stop their rates payments now and grasp the offer of a business rates “holiday” with open hands. In such critical times, we believe it would be unlikely such limits would be strictly enforced and if there were attempts further down the line, businesses would lobby the Government to keep its word to them."

Webber has more concern for those sectors, NOT mentioned  in the Chancellor’s “give away”. “Nothing was said about the manufacturing sector or indeed the office sector either. Many companies lie outside the retail/leisure/ hospitality sectors -those in financial or professional services, media on one hand to estate agents and nurseries on the other. One can only hope the Chancellor has these in sight for the next round of supportive measures he contemplates.”

“And the Chancellor also failed to cover what happens with empty properties. If tenants go bust, landlords not only loose rents, but have to pick up empty rates bills, whilst the property is unoccupied after a few months “rates” holiday. Many landlords cannot afford this, particularly owners of shopping centres or high street shops and there seemed to be no thought about these- nor the pension fund monies behind some of them. We would suggest the Government makes some recognition that an empty property is not usually by design, but by negative market conditions and makes some allowances accordingly”

“Overall, however," concludes Webber, “The Chancellor’s speech is a step in the right direction. He does finally appear to have had his ear to the ground and we welcome these immediate relief measures as a lifeline to one of our most hard-pressed sectors in these difficult times”

Related Experts

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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