The ICAEW has called for the government to reduce the business rates multiplier, in its response to the first stage of HM Treasury’s review of business rates.

The ICAEW says that the Government must act swiftly to help struggling companies by reducing business rates after the holiday in some sectors.

ICAEW’s call followed the end of the first stage of HM Treasury’s call for evidence for its review of business rates [1], which will consider short-term changes to the system. Retail, hospitality and leisure businesses were given a holiday from paying rates in the wake of the pandemic, but once this ends many companies could struggle to pay the charge.

In its submission to the consultation, ICAEW suggested the government could make changes by reducing the multiplier used to calculate rates, to reduce the charge businesses paid. Bringing down the cost of rates would help businesses recover more quickly from the effect of the pandemic,

John Boulton, Director of Technical Policy at ICAEW, said “We hope the government will take action to avoid hardship for some businesses when rates kick back in.”

“Many businesses struggling to get back on their feet could fail when faced with inflexible rates bills for thousands of pounds, which are based on historic property values that don’t reflect current economic conditions or the rapid shift to online shopping we have seen since the lockdown started.”

“Reducing the business rates multiplier would bring down the cost of this charge, and therefore lessen the burden on companies at this critical time.”