Small businesses that face losing out on at least £200m in backdated rate relief are being thrown a lifeline in the form of a free online claim system.
Unless they lodge claims by the 30 September deadline, businesses occupying commercial premises between 1 April 2007 and April 2010 could miss out on backdated small-business rate relief (SBRR), which, according to figures from property specialist LeaseholdersUnited, is worth at least £200m.
LeaseholdersUnited’s Andrew Bacon, who is property adviser to the Forum of Private Business, a not-for-profit business support and lobby group, said that the problem is being made worse because too few business owners are aware that they can claim the relief.
He added that many local councils fail to provide details of the relief and publish inaccurate information; some even continue to provide outdated, ineligible forms, according to Bacon.
‘Claiming backdated SBRR before 30 September 2010 could mean that a small business paying £5,000 a year in rent gets a cheque back from the council that is enough to cover its overheads until March 2011, just for filling in a form,’ he said.
‘Unfortunately, most councils are saying nothing about the issue and many are handing out businesses forms that actually stop them backdating their claim. This is something we first highlighted back in 2008 and, despite assurances that it would be tackled, the problem persists.
‘Time is running out so it is important to act now. The simple solution is for every business to send in the correct claim form before 30 September 2010. Those who are not eligible will simply be rejected but those that are eligible will get the money they deserve. We can help them.’
Go to www.sbrr.co.uk for more information.