A tax specialist claims an outcry from businesses has prompted an overhaul of the business rates relief in Wigan which could save firms nearly £900,000.
Council bosses are set to deliver small-scale savings to up to 900 enterprises this financial year, after the government ordered a review of non-domestic rates.
But the chief executive of CVS, a national business rates specialist, has claimed only the intervention of Local Government Minister Marcus Jones, asking town halls to be in a position to send out bills by August 21, has prompted action. Mark Rigby said: “It took a crescendo of outcry from small firms fearing for their livelihoods to get this relief and it’s been disheartening to watch those very firms fear for their survival amidst a war of words from councils.
“The minister was right to intervene to bring certainty by imposing a deadline.
“I would now urge Wigan Council to expedite the distribution of this relief to local firms hardest hit by the revaluation.”
Mr Rigby says companies were being told that the reduced bills could not be supplied without updated software being provided by outsourcing firms like Capita, Civica and Northgate, even though the tax year started in April.
The minister is said to have now written to councils, requesting the recalculated business rates bills are issued within three weeks.
Before now the council had already been selected as a pilot borough for a new scheme which will see authorities retain 100 per cent of their generated business rates.
Council chiefs in Wigan are favouring a system where qualifying businesses would receive £600 back this year, £300 in 2018-19 and £125 the following year.
Under the same shake-up, 33 other outfits should also benefit from an additional small business rates relief scheme.
These are companies which, due to changes in their rateable value, had found themselves no longer qualifying for assistance, under the existing regime.
Around 250 pubs and wine bars in the borough are also expected to profit from moves to offer rates help,
The government is eager to support the status of hostelries in both urban and rural settings and those premises with a rateable value of under £100,000 could see discounts of around £1,000,
Announcing Wigan’s rates relief provisions Coun David Molyneux, deputy council leader and regeneration lead, said: “Nearly half of the borough’s businesses will be affected by the Government’s revaluation of properties which is why we’ve developed schemes that support as many of those as possible.”
Just over 4,000 premises in the borough saw a rates rise after the controversial Whitehall revaluation.
This prompted the government to set aside £300million for councils for relief schemes.