UK firms ask for simpler approach to business rates

UK firms ask for simpler approach to business rates

 

  • 71% of SMEs want simpler and more flexible business rates
  • 49% would like more government assistance
  • 56% have seen rates rise over the past two years   

The UK’s SMEs are overwhelmingly calling for business rates to be made both simpler and more flexible, research from Close Brothers Asset Finance reveals.  Overall, the figure stands at 71%, with businesses at the larger end of the scale feeling particularly frustrated (see table, below).

Business Rates are a tax on business properties set by the government; they are collected by local authorities and are the way that those who occupy non-domestic property contribute towards the cost of local services.

“According to the latest advice, business rates are worked out based on a property’s ‘rateable value’, which is its open market rental value, which is in turn based on an estimate by the Valuation Office Agency,” said Neil Davies, CEO, Close Brothers Asset Finance. “Rates can be estimated by multiplying the rateable value by the correct ‘multiplier’, an amount set by central government.

“Our study has found that it’s a nuanced picture out there, and what I mean by that is that the call for clarity is not driven by cost concerns. 51% of those polled feel that the rates they pay are ‘just right’ against 32% who feel they are ‘too expensive’, which is consistent across regions, industries and business size.

“In addition, more businesses (44%) feel they are getting value for money compared to those who feel they are not (39%).”

 

Q: Should business rates be made simpler and more flexible?

Turnover

UK average

Under £250k

£251k - £500k

£501k - £1m

£1.1m - £5m

£5.1m - £10m

£10m +

Yes

71%

46%

72%

79%

79%

84%

83%

No

13%

9%

16%

16%

15%

13%

12%

I don’t pay business rates

16%

45%

12%

5%

6%

3%

5.%

 

Business rate relief

There is a strong sense that not enough is being done to assist businesses with rate relief, which is handled differently in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

“Steps are being taken, as demonstrated by an initiative that’s been in place from 1 April 2017 that saw 100% relief, doubled from the usual rate of 50%, for properties with a rateable value of £12,000 or less,” said Neil. “That said, the message from SMEs is clear that more needs to done.”

 

Q: Is enough being done by the government to assist businesses with business rate relief?

 

Yes

No

I don’t pay business rates

UK average

36%

49%

15%

North East England

44%

38%

19%

North West England

36%

53%

11%

Yorkshire/Humberside

36%

43%

21%

East Midlands

30%

54%

16%

West Midlands

48%

43%

10%

East Anglia

33%

54%

13%

Greater London

50%

40%

10%

South East England

34%

51%

15%

South West England

34%

42%

23%

Scotland

31%

50%

19%

Wales

36%

58%

7%

Northern Ireland

31%

69%

0%

Ireland

16%

61%

24%

 

Rate rises

Rates have been rising steadily in most regions over the past two years with nearly one in 10 saying they’ve risen ‘steeply’. Yorkshire, London, South West and Scotland experienced above the UK average rises while only 2% of SMEs have seen a decline, with the West Midlands at 7% the only region above the national sentiment. 

 

Q: Over the past two years have you seen your business rates:

 

Rise steeply

Rise steadily

Remain the same

Decline steadily

Decline sharply

Don’t pay BR

UK average

9%

47%

28%

2%

0%

13%

North East England

8%

48%

29%

0%

0%

15%

North West England

5%

62%

24%

0%

0%

10%

Yorkshire/Humberside

14%

37%

24%

3%

0%

24%

East Midlands

9%

42%

33%

3%

0%

13%

West Midlands

7%

49%

32%

7%

0%

5%

East Anglia

10%

53%

25%

0%

0%

13%

Greater London

13%

42%

36%

2%

0%

7%

South East England

7%

49%

28%

0%

2%

14%

South West England

11%

41%

27%

0%

0%

22%

Scotland

11%

50%

21%

1%

0%

17%

Wales

9%

49%

31%

0%

0%

11%

Northern Ireland

13%

44%

44%

0%

0%

0%

Ireland

7%

47%

27%

3%

0%

16%

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