In 2016 the then Chancellor announced a 5 year relief on business rates on new fibre. This resulted from a meeting between me and Treasury Officials, given the litigation Vtesse had been involved with on business rates on fibre.
The Treasury saw the tax, sometimes referred to as “fibre tax” as an obstacle to its objective of stimulating infrastructure investment, of which fibre was an important part. I said there was no point tinkering with the rules, and proposed a 10 year moratorium, which Scotland undertook, but England limited it to 5 years, running from April 2017 to March 2022.
This lead to changes in the Local Government Finance Act, and Regulations in 2018 governing the way in which the relief was to be granted.

The Valuation Officer, having been informed of the fibre meeting the conditions at 3 2) of the Regulations that :-

“new fibre” means fibre that was not laid, flown, blown, affixed or attached before 1st April 2017

would then assess how much of the total rateable value this represented. That would be put in a certificate which the operator would present to its billing authority and obtain a reduction in its rates bill by that proportion.

The definition of “new fibre” does not require the fibre to be “lit” or in use, just installed. It is not limited to local FTTP or FTTH fibre either, so includes business connections such as EAD etc.

Industry sources have verified that BT had invested around £5 billion in the qualifying 5 years.

Somewhat surprisingly, the Minister responsible has said “British Telecommunications plc has received no relief under the Regulations from 1 April 2017 up to the date of this letter.” See attached letter.

This is surprising.

Is it true? Or did BT get the benefit some other way?
By Published On: May 15, 2023Categories: News