Business rates repayment pot nears £2bn as Lidl signs up

The pot of business rates relief money that major retailers have offered to return to taxpayers has risen to almost £2bn.

The milestone was reached on Friday when discount grocery chain Lidl confirmed it was to hand back a benefit of over £100m from the one-year holiday – granted to retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in March to help them through the coronavirus pandemic.

Seven other brands have now followed Tesco’s lead in giving up the cash as they were allowed to stay open throughout the crisis and have benefited from a surge in sales as a result.

Lidl UK said it had “brought forward” its plans to return more than £100m.

Its chief executive, Christian Hartnagel, said: “The business rates relief that was provided to us, and the rest of the supermarket sector, came with a lot of responsibility that we took extremely seriously.

“We’ve been considering this for some time and we are now in a position to confirm that we will be refunding this money as we believe it is the right thing to do.

“We feel confident that the business is well positioned to navigate and adapt to any further challenges brought by COVID-19.”