More than 75% of retailers who contacted Retail Express about their business rates were identified as having a chance of receiving a refund.

More than 20 store owners got in touch following an investigation that found many councils in England overbilled thousands of small businesses for their rates last year. 

This was due to mistakes made in handing out discretionary rates relief.

Following the calls, 18 retailers were identified as having a ‘good chance’ of receiving a refund and received a template email from Retail Express explaining how to claim the relief.

These retailers had an increase in rateable value in their 2017-2018 rates, paid business rates for the 2017-2018 year after any deductions were applied, and located in a local authority likely to have discretionary rates relief funds still available.

Many of those who contacted Retail Express said they had received rates valuations that were ‘out of touch’. One said their weekly sales had declined from £8,000 to £3,500 due to major redevelopment work leading nearly all businesses and offices in the surrounding area closing down. Despite the closures, the store’s rateable value remained high.

Others complained of poor service from their local authorities including receiving less relief than promised, billing mistakes and councils losing rates relief applications

Retailers also warned of being scammed by companies promising to reduce their business rates. Those caught out often enter agreements over the phone before being billed for large amounts and are then threatened with legal action if they do not pay.