The British Retail Consortium has called on the government to settle all outstanding business rates appeals “before it’s too late”.
The calls come ahead of the new tax year, which starts on Wednesday.
BRC property adviser Dominic Curran said: “In these exceptional circumstances, the government should settle all outstanding business rates appeals without question and pay back the money claimed by ratepayers. It would offer a vital lifeline for many retailers.”
He added it was “unacceptable that billions of pounds were sat in councils’ reserves doing nothing at this time of national crisis. It is money that has already been collected to cover business rate appeals. Many of these businesses may not even be around in a few months to receive it unless the chancellor acts now.”
Since the 2017 business rates evaluation began, around £4.1bn of gross business rates revenue has been allocated to cover the costs of successful business rates appeals, according to ratings advisory firm Altus Group.
Alex Probyn, Altus Group’s UK president of expert services, said: “On the assumption that the new system of appeal was designed to only attract meritorious appeals, and with settlement levels very low, there are now significant and substantial funds held by councils earmarked and reserved for tax rebates back to business.”