The Government’s scheme of Covid-19 related business rates reliefs grows by the day as the closures forced by the virus outbreak continue to extend. The Coronavirus Act 2020 gives powers to enforce the closure of certain types of business premises and, following the Prime Minister’s statement on 23 March, additional guidance on these classes of property was issued by Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government on 25 March.
The classes of business now required to close include all non-essential retail outlets and most high street services, other than banks and building societies. A wide range of other properties required to close now includes bingo hall, betting shops, clubs, and museums.
The Chancellor has now announced that “I am removing some the exclusions for this relief, so that retail, leisure, and hospitality properties that have closed as a result of the measures announced by the Prime Minister in his statement on Monday will now be eligible for the relief”. This means that a number of additional classes of property, such as estate agents, bingo halls, and betting shops, which have now been required to close, will benefit from 100% rates relief for the 2020/21 rate year, commencing on 1 April 2020.
The further relief will be welcome for those businesses benefitting from it, but is likely to lead to renewed calls from businesses, such as office and manufacturing businesses, that they, too, should be entitled to some relief. Many such businesses have closed, or at very least are occupying their properties only minimally, but are not entitled to any of the reliefs so far announced. It is likely that we have not yet heard the final announcement from Government on this.