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Business rates relief provided to car dealers despite ambiguity

Local authorities are granting business rates relief to car dealers, despite concerns that sites with workshops may not be eligible.

Car showrooms were among the businesses listed as exempt from business rates under the government’s Covid-19 measures outlined in March, but clarification as to whether it included mixed use sites incorporating aftersales and parts was not forthcoming.

Accendia and its associated business property consultancy RS & Co, which have been supporting a variety of small and medium-sized dealership groups by providing strategic property advice, have found most local authorities have not quibbled over the description.

The company’s director Richard Stephens said: “We are pleased to report that the majority of our clients appear to be benefitting from the grant of 100% rates’ reduction, even where that business has a significant workshop function.”

Dealers could save £100k-£200k for the 12-month concession period and Accendia urges any retailer encountering resistance from their local authority to contact the consultancy or their usual business rates advisor for assistance.

Stephens added: “Since the guidance on business rates relief is discretionary and each local authority determines whether a property qualifies, there was a fear that the ambiguity of the wording ‘car showroom’ could result in some dealerships with aftersales facilities being excluded.

“While those local authorities that have responded to date have taken a benign view, which is welcome news in such uncertain times, we will continue to support the SMMT & RMIF in their lobbying of government for clarification.”

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