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Lidl says it will not claim extended business rates support

Henry Saker-Clark, PA City Reporter
·3-min read

Lidl is the latest essential retailer to reject the Chancellor’s extended business rates holiday after major supermarket rivals turned down the support last week.

The PA news agency also understands that essential retailers Pets at Home and B&M have said they will not take the latest rates support offered by the Chancellor.

Shortly after Rishi Sunak’s Budget, five of the UKs largest supermarket chains – Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda, Morrisons and Aldi – said they would not accept rates relief.

However, a week on, a number of essential retailers have remained silent over whether they will benefit from the Government policy.

Budget 2021
Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak announced the business rates holiday extension in his Budget last week (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

At the onset of the pandemic, retailers, hospitality and leisure firms were handed a business rates holiday by Mr Sunak for the year to the end of this month.

In his Budget the Chancellor confirmed plans to extend this support for another three months, with retailers who have stores still closed then able to claim a two-thirds discount to their rates bills up to £2 million for the rest of the financial year.

A host of major essential retailers, including the UK’s six largest supermarket chains, revealed plans in December to hand back more than £2 billion in relief for the current financial year after their sales were boosted by pandemic demand.

Nevertheless, a number of major retailers who traded through the pandemic – including Waitrose, Iceland, Co-op and Wilko – decided not to return the tax relief and are expected to utilise the latest support.

Lidl GB had already agreed to repay its rates relief of around £100 million for 2020-21 but has now confirmed to PA that it will take the same stance regarding the Chancellor’s latest support.

A spokeswoman for the retailer said: “Lidl GB confirms it will not be claiming the business rates relief for 2021-2022.

“We believe it is the right thing to do, and that the business is well placed to manage any further challenges the pandemic may present.”

PA also understands that Pets at Home and discount retailer B&M both intend to reject the further business rates support on offer.

Pets at Home financials
Pets at Home has reported strong sales throughout the pandemic as its stores have continued to trade (Mike Egerton/PA)

Both companies declined to comment upon approach.

B&Q owner Kingfisher was another essential retailer which agreed to repay its tax break for 2020-21, but the company declined to comment regarding whether it will receive the extended relief measure.

Some non-essential retail bosses have also been critical of the Chancellor’s move regarding rates.

Mike Ashley’s retail vehicle Frasers Group said last week the new holiday was “near worthless” for larger firms and made it close to impossible for it to take on old Debenhams shops.

The Sports Direct and House of Fraser owner said that the £2 million cap on the amount of relief a company can claim means it will have to review all its stores to find any that might no longer be viable.