FSB alarm over £175m in emergency business rates support not paid out

The chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses has voiced alarm after it was revealed that more than £175m allocated to councils for distribution to small firms in ‘emergency’ business rates support has yet to be passed on to struggling companies.

The is cash part of the Chancellor Philip Hammond’s £300m business rates hardship fund announced some 10 months ago.

But research carried out by real estate adviser Gerald Eve says that more than 40% of that cash is yet to be given to firms.

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

“The small business community was indeed facing an emergency this time last year. Our research showed that one in five firms facing business rates hikes were planning to sell, hand-on or close their business. The Chancellor’s £300m 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.

“And of course there’s no guarantee that councils will have access to their year one allocation once we get to April.

“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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