Local authorities across the UK have been urged to widen the scope of the business rates relief announced in last month’s Budget – including to more travel and tourism businesses.
Government guidance on rates relief for the hospitality and leisure sector includes an indicative, but not exhaustive, list of businesses eligible for the support set out by the Treasury in recent weeks.
Addressing a business and finance seminar hosted by accountancy firm Elman Wall on Thursday (2 April), chief executive of UKinbound Joss Croft confirmed the Local Government Association (LGA), working in partnership with the Tourism Alliance, had updated its own guidance advising councils to consider a broader range of premises.
While local authorities are not obliged to follow guidance set out by the LGA, Croft said he was hopeful councils would take a positive interpretation of the guidance.
In a message to members, UKinbound confirmed that although councils weren’t compelled to widen their schemes, the association hoped the LGA advice would encourage them to do so and provide evidence for businesses to make a case for their inclusion.
Premises the LGA is asking local authorities to include under the rates relief support schemes include: travel and tour operators; tourism information centres; tourism boards and destination management organisations; and coach operators.
“We’ve been working hard with the tourism alliance on this one,” Croft told TTG on Friday (3 April). “This is excellent news, and has so far been very well received.”
Speaking on the call, he said tour operators, in particular, should contact their local authorities and point them towards the LGA guidance. He added several UKinbound members had already been in touch with their respective authorities and been told they should now be covered.
Jonathan Wall, Elman Wall co-founder and managing director, said the collaboration between UKinbound, the Tourism Alliance and LGA was a good example of the what the UK’s travel and business associations were doing behind the scenes with local government “on everyone’s behalf”.
He said that while there would likely be inconsistencies, he was hopeful all local authorities would eventually act in the same way. He also confirmed the scheme was data-driven, so the relief should be applied automatically. If not, firms that believe they should be eligible should contact their local authority.
The LGA issued an update late on Thursday, which read: “The government has published guidance on the application of business rates relief for the hospitality and leisure sector, as part of its Covid-19 response.
“Paragraph 15 of the guidance states the list provided is not intended to be exhaustive as it would be impossible to list the many and varied uses that exist within the qualifying purposes.
“As such, authorities should determine for themselves whether particular properties not listed are broadly similar in nature and, if so, to consider them eligible for the relief.
“Working with Tourism Alliance, we have identified some tourism businesses that are not explicitly mentioned in the guidance, but in our view do fall into the intended category.”
The LGA has asked councils “give consideration” to the following premises for inclusion in their schemes: