The Government has confirmed that councils now have everything they need to hand out the £175m of discretionary business rates relief owed to small businesses this year.
The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) confirmed to Retail Express that the three major software companies responsible for building rates relief calculators had met their August 21 deadline.
Local authorities previously said that until these calculators were built, they could not hand out the funds. Research by Retail Express showed less than 1% of councils had managed to hand out the relief without the calculators.
A spokesperson from the DCLG said: “We expect the councils that chose to wait for software updates to re-bill their local businesses as soon as possible.”
Federation of Small Businesses chairman Mike Cherry described the spat between the Government and local councils over the issue as both sides “playing the blame game”. “It’s time for DCLG and local authorities to get a grip and ensure fully revised bills are with small firms before the summer is out,” he added.
However, most councils contacted previously by Retail Express said it would be impossible for even the allocation of their portion of funds to be agreed before September, let alone actually handing out of the relief. A minority of councils said it could take them even longer.
They said it was because the calculators built by the software providers have to be put before a vote in a council meeting, and in some boroughs these can take months to schedule.