Estate agents, lettings agencies and bingo halls that have closed as a result of Covid-19 measures to restrict the spread of the virus will be now be exempted from business rates in the next financial year, 2020-21, the Government has just announced.
This measure comes after the Chancellor announced in the Budget that, in response to Covid-19, the business rates retail discount would be increased to 100% next year and would be expanded to the hospitality and leisure sectors.
Today the Government has announced that some of the exclusions for this relief have been removed, so that retail, leisure, and hospitality properties that have closed as a result of the Covid-19 restriction measures will now be eligible for the relief.
This will ensure that estate agents and lettings agencies that are required to close will not pay any business rates in the next financial year, starting next month.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak said: “We are determined to do whatever it takes to support businesses during Covid-19, which is why we have extended business rates relief for the high street.
“Today, I am removing some the exclusions for this relief, so that retail, leisure, and hospitality properties that have closed as a result of the measures announced by the Prime Minister in his statement on Monday will now be eligible for the relief.
“This will ensure that estate agents, lettings agencies and bingo halls that are required to close will not pay any business rates next year.”
Eligible businesses will be rebilled by their local authority and the new bill will give them the discount of 100%.
If businesses have made payments in the meantime, they will be refunded by their local authority. The Government said it is working with local authorities to ensure new bills are issued as soon as possible.
Guidance for local authorities on the application of the holiday will be published by MHCLG shortly.
Mark Hayward, CEO of Propertymark NAEA which has been campaigning for business rates relief to be extended to agents, said: “We are pleased to see that the Government has listened and acknowledged the concerns from many estate and letting agencies across the country.
“This is a real boost in uncertain times and will assist all businesses that are finding it difficult to operate in the current environment.”
Isobel Thomson, chief executive of safeagent, said: “We’re grateful to the Government for recognising the urgent need to extend the business rate exemption to estate and letting agents. There are tough times ahead for the industry and it was crucial that this support was extended.
“Safeagent, along with other industry organisations has pressed the Government hard over the last few weeks on the issue of business rates, and we appreciate they have listened to us.”