Insight

Calls mount for business rates holiday extension

London Mayor Sadiq Khan is the latest big name to call on the government to extend the business rates holiday beyond April 2021.

The politician says reintroducing the rates would be the “final blow” for those businesses already struggling to survive during the pandemic.

Business rates for the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors have been halted in England until the new financial year starts next April but the Mayor of London, along with other councils across the capital, are worried that tens of thousands of jobs will be lost in the city as workers still grapple with the prospect and practicalities of office working. Uncertainty around a looming second lockdown is also hampering recovery, particularly in the retail and hospitality sector.

Khan stated this week: “Businesses across London continue to struggle from the impact of Covid-19. If the business rates holiday comes to an end, I worry any employers will have no choice but to make more people unemployed.

“Many large retail, leisure and hospitality businesses – accounting for thousands of Londoners’ jobs – are taking important decisions for the next financial year right now, so certainty over the business rates holiday is needed urgently.”

Every other Local Authority in the UK will probably echo the same message as Khan with many city centres still a shadow of their former selves.

The London mayor also called for an extension to the business rates holiday for childcare providers, which he said were crucial in allowing Londoners to return to work. Cllr Clare Coghill, London Councils’ executive member for Business, Europe and Good Growth, said businesses were still “reeling” from the long-term impacts of Covid-19.

“Ending the business rates holiday too soon will destabilise too many companies, leading to closures, job losses and a shrinking economy both in London and across the rest of the country,” she added.

The same message is being mirrored across the country, but the Government is foregoing around £29bn annually with the business rates’ holiday. Whilst it will help support businesses forward planning for 2021 and beyond into 2022 it is doubtful that Rishi Sunak will want to commit such a large chunk of revenue from his future budget when we are still six months away from the new financial year. All eyes on the next Autumn budget then.

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