On Budget day, all eyes were on the Chancellor to see what action he would take to mitigate the impact of revised business rate valuations. However, it is clear that Mr Hammond’s plans resulted in a mixed bag for our sector.

First the good news – a £300m relief fund available for businesses that are seeing significant increases in their rates bills in April. The fund will not be delivered centrally, though, but at the discretion of local authorities and it’s up to you to make a case for relief. If you would like advice on how to best make a representation, get in touch and we’ll do everything we can to help.

The bad news came not in the budget document itself, but in documents released by the Department for Communities and Local Government in the following hours. It detailed the government’s response to concerns about rates appeals.

We have been campaigning for months on the issue of rates appeals, specifically on the idea that businesses could still lose out even if their appeals are successful based on whether the valuation is considered to be within the bounds of ‘reasonable judgement’. So to find out that the government has essentially fudged its response and tried to sneak in a proposal that is indistinguishable from the one it’s replacing (assessing whether a judgement is reasonable as opposed to reasonable professional judgement) is disappointing. Our position is clear. Businesses must not be forced to overpay when their rates appeals are successful, and we will continue to make representations to government to ensure voices of retailers are heard.