In light of Government announcements today, Colliers advise all rate payers to declare their work and office locations empty and claim appropriate reliefs from 21st March.
Following the Chancellor’s announcement this evening that all restaurants, pubs, bars, nightclubs, theatres, cinemas and gyms must close for business, such firms are eligible to claim empty rates relief from tomorrow until 31st March, according to Colliers Business Rates team.
The prohibition by law, which starts from Saturday 21st 2020, means that such properties cannot be occupied. As the recently announced 12-month period of rates relief for the sector does not apply until 1st April, all ratepayers in these categories will therefore be eligible for empty rates relief from tomorrow until 31st March 2020.Since March rate bills will have already been paid, Colliers advises such businesses to apply for refunds for these extra days until the end of the month. And as occupation of the categories is now prohibited by law, Colliers believe that State Aid will no longer be an issue.
Turning to other sectors, Colliers also believes that given the advice regarding groups not assembling and people working from home, the implication is that businesses should declare that their offices and work locations empty.They can then request the appropriate relief on these from tomorrow also.
Commenting, John Webber, Head of Business Rates said, “Despite 100% business rates relief given to the retail and leisure sectors from April 2020, these businesses are going to be hard pressed to keep their heads above water in the weeks ahead. We sympathise with our clients and advise them to claim every day of rates relief that they can.
“We also acknowledge there is clarity for some other sectors who can now also make claims for relief on virtue of being empty. We advise all our clients to do so and not to pay their rate bills as of April 1st.
"We applaud the Government for the support it is trying to give to business in this difficult time, but it is clear that still much more needs to be done, particularly to help the wider business market, and we would urge the grant of a six months rates holiday for all businesses."
He added, “We have also been advised that guidance on the package of grants that was to have been made available today, will now be pushed back to early next week. This certainly won’t be the end of the measures the government is going to have to make in the difficult days ahead.”