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Small firms 'still waiting for business rates relief'

Small firms promised Government help to tackle the rising cost of business rates are still waiting for their payouts, according to a property advice company.

Business rates and rent specialist CVS said some companies have been complaining that their relief is not coming through, despite two months passing since the scheme was announced in the Budget.

Chancellor Philip Hammond announced a £435 million relief package to help companies facing a sharp jump in costs following the business rates revaluation in April.

Firms saw the amount they pay rise - in some cases by 3,000% - after rateable values were updated to take into account property prices over the last seven years.

Mark Rigby, chief executive of CVS, said a "common sense" approach was needed by the Government.

He said: "The money to help those most in need is coming from Government and there is no reason why revised tax demands shouldn't have been sent out by local councils by now.

"These delays are simply causing panic, confusion and alarm for small firms."

Mr Hammond said he would cap rates for the smallest firms that lost their business rates relief so their bill could not increase by more than £50 a month.

He also said 90% of pubs would be handed a £1,000 discount on their business rates bills this year.

CVS has estimated that under the revaluation 1,552 business went from paying no business rates to normal rates, while the smallest businesses are in line for a rates hikes of around £46 million.

Firms in London are set to be among those hit hardest due to soaring property values, with the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) estimating businesses in the capital will see rates rise by around 11% above inflation over the next five years.

The Tories said they would carry out a full review of the business rates system if they are re-elected in the June 8 General Election.

A spokesman for the Department for Communities and Local Government said: "Following a consultation the Government confirmed how much of the £300 million discretionary relief scheme each local authority would receive.

"It is now for councils to finalise the details of these schemes in their areas before implementing them once they are agreed locally.

"We have also published guidance on the additional relief available to support small businesses and have encouraged local authorities to inform businesses that are eligible as soon as possible."

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