The former fashion store has been reconfigured at the Arndale. Credit: archive

Manchester business rates suspended for April

The city council is postponing the collection of business rates on 1 April to help companies, while Network Rail is cancelling rents for the next three months.

“We understand this will be a worrying time for business owners of all sizes and we will do what we can to help as the situation evolves,” said Cllr Carl Ollerhead, Manchester City Council’s executive member for finance and human resources.

“It’s important that we can support businesses and minimise their expenditure while relief and support from central Government is put into action.”

The Government this week promised to cancel business rates this year for all companies in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors, and such companies will also be able to apply for £25,000 grants from the government, as part of an emergency Whitehall rescue plan for businesses affected by the virus outbreak.

However, the rates relief does not apply to businesses in other sectors, such as commercial or industrial, and the Government has yet to publish the finer details.

A spokesperson for Manchester City Council said that while the specific detail and timing of the Whitehall package is not yet clear, “the message from us is that regardless of where the national picture is, businesses in Manchester won’t be put under more pressure by business rates being automatically taken on 1 April.”

The council said it would “reprofile business rates payment arrangements over the remaining 11 months where appropriate”, and said it has “suspended all bailiff action” to recover business rates that are overdue until the end of June.

It said in a statement: “For businesses that contact us, we will agree special payment plans so that the business rates due for 2020/21 are split over nine months from July 2020 to March 2021, meaning that businesses will not have to pay anything until July.

“We would urge all businesses to keep in touch with us, ensure that they are getting all the reliefs and support that they are entitled to, and to let us know how we can support them during this challenging period.”

For businesses that are in the retail, hospitality or leisure industry we have suspended all recovery action for an initial three-month period, while it awaits further guidance from Whitehall.

Meanwhile, Network Rail announced today it is cancelling all second-quarter rent payments due from tenants in its UK-wide commercial property estate with immediate effect. This relates to payments due for the period 25 March to 23 June 2020.

The move is intended to provide “significant relief for small businesses who are worried about the impact of the virus on their footfall”, it said.

David Biggs, managing director for Network Rail Property, said: “We work in partnership with retailers and tenants to provide positive experiences for passengers and communities.

“In challenging times, it is important we step up to the plate and show our partners they are valued, and we are ready and willing to help. That is why we have taken this decisive action today…and will keep speaking with our retailers and tenants about how we can assist further.”



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