Gareth Smyth, CEO of Bolton-based business and finance broker Hilton Smyth Group has written to chancellor Rishi Sunak to call for a six-month extension to the business rates holiday introduced at the end of March.
In his letter, he explains that reintroducing business rates so soon after the extended lockdown period could be detrimental to small and medium-sized enterprises which will need more time to create a financial buffer and get themselves back on track.
The letter also highlights that: ‘for some businesses, the entire workforce will continue to work from home for some time yet, at the advice and guidance of the government, and if business rates are reinstated, will be paying them on empty offices.’
He voiced concern that many businesses will have been required to close completely or their income will have been significantly reduced throughout the lockdown, and that levying an extra cost before they have returned to normal could lead to high levels of business failures.
Gareth Smyth said: “It’s been a tough time for all businesses, regardless of size. Everyone from Richard Branson and his global Virgin Atlantic airline, through to the local chippy, has been feeling the strain of lockdown. The government introducing the business rates holiday at the end of March was a huge relief for many of us, but I worry all that good work could be undone if they reintroduce it too quickly.
“An extra six months would give businesses breathing space and more time to rebuild their income and profit to be in a position to meet financial commitments. The government has gone out of its way to keep firms going throughout this crisis; it would be counterproductive to sacrifice them now.
“Bricks and mortar businesses have suffered hugely throughout this crisis and will incur further costs moving forward to make their workplaces safe and compliant when they are able to reopen. If we want the economy to recover quickly, time needs to be afforded to those who have been impacted the most.
“If the chancellor would agree to an extra six months of business rates relief, it could mean the difference between survival and demise for many SMEs. I hope it’s something he’ll consider.”