The hospitality, leisure, and retail relief announcement feels like a lifetime ago. Support was rolled out hastily to account for the sudden collapse in our economy but provided an essential life-raft to thousands of businesses when they needed it most. Many businesses still rely on this life-raft to this day, nearly three years after its introduction.
But the unclear guidelines for its qualification left many businesses unsure if they qualified, and paying full business rates at a time of financial emergency.
Now, if you want to claim for retail relief, you only have until September to lodge an appeal before your right to a year's worth of relief is withdrawn.
"I couldn't get retail relief before, what's different now?"
At first, everyone and their dog tried to apply for retail relief. The guidelines were so marred it appeared that making just a few changes to your business setup could save you tens of thousands of pounds in business rates. And many people were successful in this too! But councils became inundated with appeal applications, and the process largely became a postcode lottery for businesses that weren't black and white retail, leisure, or hospitality.
Appeals have now thinned out to an extent, and the process has become more streamlined. Rating agents have more experience with the professional presentation of evidence now, resulting in a higher success rate for appeals.
In brief, if you tried your hand at the start of the pandemic but were unsuccessful, all is not lost! Consult an agent to work out if there is an appeal to pursue before deciding on your next steps. We offer this consultation completely free of charge.
The importance of submitting an appeal before the end of September
A successful appeal can be backdated, meaning that you will be rebated on what you've overpaid on your business rates for a set time. For a check, challenge, appeal (CCA), this rebate extends as far back as 2017. And for a retail relief appeal, it's backdated for 1 year. It's important to note here that retail relief appeals can usually result in more substantial rebates than CCA's, so one year of retail relief can make a real difference in the pay-out you receive.
Also, retail relief has changed significantly over the years. To ease the transition for businesses now having to pay business rates again, the government continues to offer support but that support will be gradually tapered until businesses will be paying full business rates again.
For three months of 2021/22, businesses were eligible for 100% business rates relief, the remaining nine months, businesses received 66% relief. As we move into 2023, this will be reduced further, to 50% retail relief.
The last thing you'd want is to decide to pursue a reduction and be successful, only to find out that had you made a decision sooner you'd have received a far more significant rebate. This is why it's important that you don't miss out on the three months of 100% relief. And the cut-off date is this September!
Don't believe your business model fits the remit?
The retail, hospitality and leisure industries have some clear cut business models. Your typical shops, restaurants and gyms are all very easy to identify as fitting the scope. However, in our experience, there are many other businesses that have had difficulty trading through the pandemic, and that have also been eligible for retail relief without knowing it. We've pursued successful appeals for storage facilities, educational centres and medical facilities that had previously been rejected for retail relief. The best thing to do is start the conversation, and decide how you'd like to proceed from there.