Small firms still waiting on rates support

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Small firms still waiting on rates support

The Federation of Small Businesses has hit out at a failure by some councils to pass on funds aimed at helping small businesses cope with last year’s rates hike. 

The FSB’s remarks came in response to new research by property consultants Gerald Eve showing that more than 40 per cent of the £175 million allocated to councils for the year ending March 2018 from Chancellor Philip Hammond’s £300 million business rates hardship fund has yet to be seen by local firms.

FSB national chairman Mike Cherry said: “It’s hard to believe that small firms hit by last year’s bruising business rates evaluation are still waiting on what at the time was dubbed ‘emergency’ support more than 300 days and 10 months after it was launched."

'False hope'

Research carried out this time last year by the FSB showed that one in five businesses facing rates hikes were considering selling or closing their business. Mr Cherry said: “The Chancellor’s £300 million hardship fund offered a small glimmer of hope. For many, it’s proved to be false hope.”

“What’s really shocking is that in some cases you have the government confirming that councils have emergency schemes in place, when in reality they’ve given out very little, and in some instances none of the money they’ve been allocated.” 

There are some examples of councils making effective use of the available funds, Mr Cherry said: “Many local authorities have designed great emergency support schemes, enabling them to get their allocation out to the firms that need it months ago. If some can get their houses in order, they all can.”

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