Businesses owe councils £2.5bn in business rates

English businesses owe local councils almost £2.5 billion in unpaid business rates, according to research from real estate software provider Altus.

The news comes after the business rates holiday in England, which was originally due to finalise at the end of this month, was extended by the government until 30 June on March 3.

Councils have collected £14.88 billion in business rates in the year to March 31 from businesses not eligible for the rates holiday.

The business rates debt is accompanied by the £5 billion in rent debt arrears, which have impacted the retail industry particularly hard.

The news comes as MPs are set to debate legislation in Parliament today which could prohibit coronavirus-related business rates appeals.

“Removing the appeal right from firms is a crushing blow to business,” said Robert Hayton, UK president of property tax at Altus. “The replacement scheme is wholly inadequate – it won’t deliver enough support quickly enough and will exclude those firms still trading under restrictions.”

He added: “This Bill threatens the post-pandemic recovery and undermines the whole rating system.”

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