UK airports face multimillion-pound business rates bills…

UK airports face multimillion-pound business rates bills – money that should be paid to councils
2020-06-03 16:40:00
Heathrow and Gatwick airports are facing £ multi-million business rates bills, despite the pandemic having grounded aircraft and dramatically cut their incomes.  The airports are among thousands of UK companies set to appeal against their rates bills. Heathrow apparently owes £113.2m for the current tax year, the highest of any site in England and Wales, according to an annual review of business ratepayers by Altus Group, a real estate adviser. Gatwick has the next biggest bill at £29.2m.   Business rates, which are paid to local councils, are calculated on the basis of rateable values — effectively an estimate of a property’s rental value at a given date. Rateable values are set according to rents on April 1 2015.  They are not based on how well, or how badly, a company is doing.  Heathrow bleated that the rates were based on “a world in which people flew”. The airports argue that rates relief will help them protect jobs.  Some sectors – retail, hospitality or leisure – have been given rates holidays.  The money from the rates is a key part of the income of councils, and if not paid, then the funding and spending of councils is at risk. .Tweet   UK airports face multimillion-pound business rates bills Heathrow and Gatwick to seek relief after income and passenger numbers plummet Heathrow airport owes £113.2m for the current tax year By George Hammond (Financial Times) 1st June 2020 Heathrow and Gatwick airports are facing multimillion-pound business rates bills, despite the coronavirus pandemic having grounded aircraft and sent their incomes plummeting. The airports are among thousands of UK companies set to appeal their rates bills on the basis that the pandemic has materially changed their circumstances. Heathrow airport owes £113.2m for the current tax year, the highest of any site in England and Wales, according to an annual review of business ratepayers by Altus Group, a real estate adviser.  ( See  https://property.altusgroup.com/2020/05/exclusive-heathrow-gatwick-airports-top-property-tax-list-despite-uncertainty-over-air-travel/ ) Gatwick, whose major customer Virgin Atlantic is to close its operations at the airport, faces the next biggest bill at £29.2m.   [Next in size of rates bills are Sellafield Nuclear power station, and then Sizewell nuclear power station. See Altus link above] Business rates, which are paid to local councils, are calculated on the basis of rateable values — effectively an estimate of a property’s rental value at a given date. Rateable values are set according to rents on April 1 2015.  But the economic downturn caused by coronavirus has made those values redundant, argue property owners. The £113.2m rates bill is based on “a world in which people flew”, Heathrow said.  “Covid-19 has decimated our industry — our passenger numbers are already down 97% and quarantine will come into effect in June. If the UK government wants aviation to be able to help play a role in rebuilding our economy, it must now act and give our sector a fair deal just as it’s done for others,” the airport added. Stewart Wingate, chief executive of Gatwick Airport, said: “We are asking for a national system of business rate relief for English airports, administered by the government, so that we receive the same exemptions as other businesses to help us in our hour of need to protect jobs and to help us restart vital connections for business, trade and tourism.” He added: “We find ourselves in the situation where governments in devolved nations in Scotland and Northern Ir

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