03 Apr 2017Councils across England are being urged to distribute quickly the funds allocated for firms hit by the recent hike in business rates. The call came from the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) and follows the controversial revaluation of business rates, which took effect on 1 April. Last month the Chancellor Philip Hammond announced a range of measures intended to help those worst hit by the rates increase, which included providing English local authorities with funding to support £300m of discretionary relief. However, critics have warned of potential chaos and uncertainty as many businesses do not yet know whether they will benefit from the relief fund. Commenting, FSB National Chairman, Mike Cherry, said: ‘The promise of a £300m relief fund for local authorities to help those hardest hit is welcome. But we urge councils to make small firms aware of their allocation and finalise the mechanism for distributing it as soon as possible. ‘What we have to remember is that bills have already landed. That being the case, any firm that pays their full business rates without realising they qualify for relief should have their overpayment returned automatically, and swiftly.’ It is thought that around 510,000 businesses have seen a rise in their rates bills, with some firms expected to incur an increase of up to 50%. Responding to the concerns, the government said it was working with local authorities to ensure the extra support ‘gets to businesses as soon as possible’.