This is what the FSB had to say
The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) voiced their concern on Tuesday about uncertainty surrounding the business rates relief initiatives promised to small firms in London at the Spring Budget.
In the Budget, March this year the Chancellor and Communities Secretary promised a £300m hardship fund for local authorities to help those most affected by business rates.
This was a significant and welcome win that FSB worked very hard to achieve. The Government consulted on the distribution of this money to councils to help those most affected, and every local authority has known its total fund allocation since April.
While some local authorities have consulted on their own scheme to distribute their allocation and are now implementing them, evidence is mounting elsewhere of businesses being sent bills at original, much higher rates. Some local authorities are now chasing them for payment, and may be starting debt collection processes, as they have not devised their schemes.
General Election pre-election period (‘purdah’) rules do not prevent local consultations taking place, for a scheme that is already announced. The factual details of how each council will distribute the money is not controversial, and should have been agreed and published.
Mike Cherry the FSB national chairman, said Tuesday: “Small businesses were given a cast iron guarantee that the General Election would not delay implementation of rates relief initiatives. The £300m hardship fund for Councils promised by the Chancellor and Communities Secretary in the Budget was a significant win that FSB fought hard to achieve. Over a third of that funding was promised for London Boroughs.”
“Every London borough has known its fund allocation since April, so they should not be chasing small business owners for inflated bills as they have not got around to devising their distribution schemes. FSB calls on Government to issue guidance to local authorities that puts a moratorium on pursuing small businesses for these incorrect bills, which would need to be refunded as soon as a local authority gets its house in order.”
“The first order of business for the Communities Secretary in the next Government should be to get a grip and make sure the promised help is delivered in the first month of office.”