Insight

Business rates reform bill dropped following Parliament prorogation

One casualty of the Brexit uncertainty and the prorogation of Parliament has been the much-anticipated business rates reform legislation.

The Non-Domestic Rating (Lists) Bill and – perhaps not quite as far-reaching – the Non-Domestic Rating (Public Lavatories) Bill have both now fallen away having failed to receive Royal Assent in the 2017-19 Parliamentary session.

The Lists legislation was due to ensure business rates bills for all commercial premises would be reassessed every three years, rather than the current five-year period. It also aimed to bring forward the next Revaluation to 2021.

The Government’s closing of Parliament has potentially wasting £50 million of taxpayers’ cash in the process say campaigners and they are understandably angry at the decision to allow the Bills to fall away. They are now pressing for the Government to reintroduce the Bills as soon as Parliament sits again this week following the Queen’s Speech today (Monday).

The Government may well decide to re-introduce the Bills in the Queen’s Speech but even if that’s the case, any re-introduced Bill would have to start the scrutiny process all over again.

There is some hope of this as the House of Commons’ Library has produced a briefing paper on the Queen’s Speech highlighting the potential subjects of legislation in the next session, of which Business Rates features. Let’s hope the Bills are allowed to swiftly progress to ensure the reforms everyone has been working on for the past two years can finally make it onto the statute books.

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