Tuesday, October 10, 2017

News: Rotherham pubs waiting on change

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Small businesses and pubs in Rotherham are still waiting for a business rates discount promised by the Government in March.

Whilst the property industry and businesses continue to call for much needed reform to the whole business rates system, the chancellor announced in the 2017 budget, a package of measures to help those businesses adversely affected.

These included a cap of £50 a month on increases for businesses coming out of small business rate relief, a £1,000 one-off discount for pubs with a rateable value of less than £100,000, and a £300m fund for local authorities to deliver discretionary relief to target individual hardship cases.

With Government guidance for councils on how to implement the measures only being updated in August, and a need to update billing software, many local authorities are yet to pass on the relief to businesses feeling the pinch in their areas.

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Rotherham Council, who will be fully compensated by the Government when it implements the discount, are set to contact potentially eligible businesses later this month following cabinet and commissioner approval.

For Rotherham, the Council has estimated that some 117 pubs may be eligible with a total relief of £110k. 36 small business in the borough could also be eligible with a total relief of £36k.

Small business rate relief has been in operation for a number of years and currently means that no rates are paid if a property's rateable value is £12,000 or less. For properties with a rateable value of £12,001 to £15,000, the rate of relief will go down gradually from 100% to 0%. Over 3,000 businesses in Rotherham receive some small business rate relief.

Business rates are based on a what is known as the "rateable value" of its property - a calculation based on the rental value of the space. A percentage of the rateable value is paid and 49% of business rates collected by councils is returned to them by the Government.

A revaluation exercise this year lead to the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA), estimating that four in ten pubs experienced a rise to their business rates.

One example in Rotherham, the popular town centre pub, the Cutlers Arms, on Westgate, has seen the rateable value increase from £3,000 in 2010 to £13,500 in 2017. Parkgate-based Chantry Brewery re-opened the pub specialising in real ale and live music in 2014.

In another example, the Corn Law Rhymer on High Street, acquired by Hawthorn Leisure from J D Wetherspoon in 2016, has seen the rateable value increase from £82,500 in 2010 to £111,000 in 2017, taking it over the threshold for the £1,000 discount.

CAMRA launched a campaign this year calling for an annual £5,000 reduction in business rates for every pub across England. Britain has lost 28,000 pubs since the 1970s, according to the group's latest Good Beer Guide.

Images: Hawthorn Leisure


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