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Members could miss out on a reduction in their business rates if they don’t contact their local authority or council to find out how the reduction will be applied.

Bira have become aware of a lack of uniformity in the way local authorities are implementing the hard-fought 30 percent discount for businesses with a rateable value below £51,000, with some automatically applying it, whilst others require a form to be filled in.

In October 2018, Bira were delighted when the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced the discount in his budget. He said that this reduction would be applied to all retail premises (below the £51,000 threshold) and businesses would still receive the small business rates reliefs (applicable to businesses with a rateable value below £12,000).

Andrew Goodacre, Bira’s CEO said: “This was a real win for the smaller independent retail businesses and a real reward for Bira’s campaign to reduce the burden of business rates.

“We have continued our work by challenging the local authorities to implement the 30% discount in the most expedient way so that all relevant businesses receive this much needed discount. We have already written to the local authorities, reminding them to support retail businesses by making it easy to claim the discounts.”

However, it appears the implementation may not be as uniform as Bira were hoping for, mainly due to the different legacy systems used by local authorities. This is relevant because an independent retail business may have premises in more than one local authority or council and it would be a mistake to expect the same treatment from each authority.

Andrew added: “We strongly recommend you contact your local authority, (for each of your premises if you have more than one) and establish how your local authority or council intends to implement the rates discounts. We already know that some local authorities will automatically reduce the rates bill but others are asking retail businesses to complete a form to apply for the discount. Either way, it is really important that you take the initiative and contact the authorities so you are well prepared.

“Together we have fought hard to obtain this discount and it would be a real shame if any business paid more rates than it needed to.”

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