The Chancellor announces long-overdue savings on business rates
It’s the announcement many small businesses have been waiting for. In yesterday’s Autumn statement the Chancellor’s presented a budget that, he claims, not only marks the end of austerity for the country but one that was also ‘business-friendly’.
In a move to stave off the threat of online shopping, as well as onerous fixed costs applied to business premises, Philip Hammond announced that business rates will be cut by a third. Not for all businesses, admittedly, but welcome relief for any shops – as well as cafes, pubs and restaurants – with a rateable value of up to £51,000.
The cuts will be applied from April 2019 and see an annual saving of “up to £8,000 for up to 90 percent of all independent shops, pubs, restaurants and cafes.” Over the next two years, and until business rates are revalued again, hard-hit independent businesses will benefit from £900m in savings.
The Chancellor revealed there will be a further £650m Future High Streets Fund to help councils breathe new life into the nation’s high streets which lie “at the heart of many communities” but that, the government recognises, need to adapt to survive against the well-publicised online threat. Mr Hammond says this fund will encourage councils to “invest in the improvements they need and to facilitate redevelopment of under-used retail and commercial areas into residential, helping with the housing challenge and delivering much needed footfall to high street businesses.”
The budget won’t have gone as far as many business leaders and commentators would have liked, of course. But for the vast majority of independent businesses, this will be a long-overdue boost that enables them to invest in their own growth and development. What’s more, it will encourage more entrepreneurial types to take the plunge and start a new business, or buy one of the thousands of existing businesses for sale.