Budget: Limited rates help insufficient for thousands of rural businesses facing immediate harm

08 March 2017

The CLA which represents landowners, farmers and rural businesses across England and Wales has responded to the Chancellor’s Spring Budget announcement on business rates.

CLA President Ross Murray said: “We believe the Chancellor has listened to us. He is taking action to help those small rural businesses who as a result of the 2017 revaluation no longer qualify for rates relief. The introduction of a cap is not the same as the 100% discount we called for but it is welcome.

“We are keen to see the details of the fund for discretionary relief as it is important this leads to opportunities for rural councils to help the worst affected rural businesses. However, these interventions are limited and leave thousands of rural businesses facing unaffordable rates hikes from 1 April.

“The Chancellor also said nothing about the looming problem of processing business rates appeals. We expect to see thousands of inaccurate valuations challenged and it is not clear the Valuation Office is prepared to deal with these quickly and fairly.

“The Chancellor’s commitment to reform the revaluation system is the right thing. Few businesses suffering at this time will be reassured by the fact it will take five years before any meaningful changes are brought in. The new rating proposal must provide the right first time assessment to reflect the unique nature of rural business.”