Councils across England failed to hand out transitionary business rates relief for a second year in a row.
Last year, 220 Freedom of Information (FOI) requests logged by betterRetailing in partnership with chartered surveyor Ian B Sloan revealed that £17.5m in relief was wasted for the 2018-2019 financial year.
This year, new FOI requests logged show that the same councils failed to learn from their mistakes.
In 2017-2018, Swindon Council failed to hand out £256,958.68 of the £314,000 available – nearly 82%. Despite being warned by betterRetailing and Ian B Sloan, the same authority still failed to hand out £99,009.16 of the £153,000 available in 2018-2019 – nearly 65%.
A Swindon Council spokesman blamed legal limits on tax relief to large firms for its failure to distribute its funds. However, Swindon said it had more success in giving out the funds for the current year. “We have already allocated £60,000 of the £63,000 available,” they added.
£300m in discretionary rates relief was announced by Sajid Javid in 2017 to help small businesses hit with large business rates bills. Councils received funds to give out each year until 2021.
However, betterRetailing’s investigation showed even Javid’s own constituency (Bromsgrove) wasted 65% of allocated funds.
Many councils told betterRetailing relief was only given to small shops and businesses that inquired about the relief.
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