No budget relief for equestrian businesses
Riding centres have made a desperate plea to a government which has again failed to address the impact of the tax
A DESPERATE plea has been made to the government to do more to address the impact of business rates on riding centres, after the budget announcement.
Chancellor Philip Hammond announced cuts to business rates for retailers until 2021, but the Association of British Riding Schools (ABRS) said these do not help its members.
“What the government fails to grasp, or does but ignores, is that riding schools are different to most businesses in that their ‘stock’ consists of living beings,” ABRS trustee director Brenda Gilligan told H&H, adding that decreasing grazing or stabling is not an option due to horses’ welfare needs.
“They can’t just move to a smaller riding school two doors down — there isn’t one. They can’t build more stables to house more horses to do more lessons, as the stables are then rated, thus defeating the object.
“We desperately need the government to take these and more issues on board, but it has fallen on deaf ears so far.”
The British Horse Society (BHS), which has a long-running campaign for fairer business rates, has contacted the chancellor.
In his budget speech, Mr Hammond said the government has introduced rates relief measures worth £12bn. He also met BHS chief operating officer Sarah Phillips in the spring and asked the BHS to collect evidence of the tax’s impact on the industry.
Businesses can “check and
challenge” rateable values on the Valuation Office Agency website.
BALANCING THE BOOKS
EMPLOYERS will pay less towards apprentices’ training from April 2019.
All businesses whose wages bills come to under £3m pay
10% towards the cost of their apprentices’ training, as well as their wages. From next spring, that training contribution will be halved to 5%, which works out at about £300 per person.
Chris Hewlett, managing director of apprenticeship provider Haddon Training, told H&H this is not a huge amount of money, but will help businesses.
He said if employers build apprenticeships into business plans and “buy in” to training and supporting staff, it can lead to positive outcomes for both parties.
But while training costs are decreasing, the minimum wage will increase from 2019, to £8.21 per hour for over-25s and £3.90 for apprentices.
Lucy Katan, executive director of the British Grooms Association, reminded businesses that paying minimum wage is the law.
“This is good news for grooms, as they will see a pay rise, but a challenge for employers who must balance the books,” she told H&H.
“HMRC has already told the equestrian industry they are targeting our sector with investigations — they must be, as I have never heard of as many cases happening as there are now,” added Lucy.
“Employers really should be aware of the significant fines for non-compliance and protect themselves. The Equestrian Employers Association are helping every day with this.”
Yards have been hit hard by previous increases in business rates