Hundreds of firms waiting for business rate relief after software glitch

British High Street

Hundreds of companies due to receive business rates relief will have their discount delayed because of a problem with local councils’ IT software.

Last year the government announced an initiative to revive the high street by cutting rates for businesses with properties that have a rateable value of less than £51,000.

A total of 75 local authorities have been told by their software provider, Civica, that changes to bills cannot be made until after the new financial year.

The delay is particularly embarrassing after the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government told councils last week to “act promptly to ensure businesses receive the increased support in their rates bills at the start of the financial year”.

A department spokesman said: “The government has been working closely with councils and has published detailed guidance on how to implement the new business rates reliefs.”

Robert Hayton, of the real estate adviser Altus Group, said: “Tax demands can be manually adjusted by councils so it is ridiculous that small firms in England will have to wait.”