coronavirus family wearing masks

The Chancellor should announce a discretionary business rates relief in tomorrow’s Budget for companies hit by coronavirus disruption, property firm Colliers International has urged.

The firm said the Budget would be a good opportunity for the government to provide emergency relief on business rates to provide a buffer should shoppers stay away from stores and restaurants, imported goods warehouses remain empty and office staff work from home.

Currently “discretionary rate relief” can be granted under the Local Government Finance Act 1988, but this was funded by local authorities, which were already under strain, Colliers said.

The firm is calling for the government to instead take it under central control.

“Already we are starting to see the economic impact of Covid-19, with a falling stock market and some major cities in lockdown,” said Colliers head of business rates John Webber.

“The impact on ordinary businesses could be huge, particularly those that run shops and restaurants, as customers stay at home. We urge the government to look at measures to help support businesses - and providing relief via business rates would be a good start, particularly if funded centrally.”