Small businesses with just one week to claim at least £200m in backdated business rate relief can now use a free online claims system to avoid missing out.
September 30 is the deadline for businesses occupying commercial premises between April 1, 2007 and April 2010 to claim backdated small business rate relief (SBRR), which, according to property specialist LeaseholdersUnited, is worth at least £200m.
LeaseholdersUnited's Andrew Bacon, who is property advisor to the Forum of Private Business, has said the problem is being made worse as too few business owners are aware they can claim the relief. He also says many local councils fail to provide details of SBRR or publish accurate information.
"Claiming backdated SBRR before September 30, 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," said Mr Bacon.
He added: "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 September 30. Those who are not eligible will simply be rejected but those that are eligible will get the money they deserve. We can help them."
To claim SBRR, Mr Bacon is urging business owners to follow five simple steps:
· Go to www.sbrr.co.uk
· Enter your local authority details and your email address
· Receive the correct form, together with completion notes and a fax number for the council
· Fill it in and fax it off before September 30, 2010
· If you are eligible the council will send you a cheque and then also automatically grant you any SBRR from April 1, 2010 onwards
According to Mr Bacon, many businesses have downloaded claim forms for free from www.sbrr.co.uk in the last two days, enabling them to claim as much as £5,000 each. "Had they waited until October 1 to do this, they would only have been able to claim £2,000," he said.
From October 1, SBRR is set to increase in England. Businesses with a rateable value of less than £6,000 will pay no business rates for a year. Previously they received a 50% discount.
Taper relief from 100% to 0% will also be in place for properties of more than £6,000 and up to £12,000 in rateable value for that period.
Empty property relief has been extended for 2010-11 so that all empty properties with a rateable value below £18,000 are exempt from business rates.
Similar business rate relief schemes operate in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.