Written by: Keith Tully
Reviewed: Tuesday 30th October, 2018
The chancellor of the exchequer has promised that the government will introduce a series of measures intended to provide financial relief to struggling retailers and small businesses throughout the country.
Philip Hammond used his Budget speech at Westminster to describe high street retail businesses as being “under pressure as never before” and announce £675 million of funding for local councils in support of their efforts to improve their shopping districts.
The allocated cash is intended to help urban planners to redevelop under-used retail outlets and commercial properties in ways that eventually encourage more footfall in town and city centres.
Mr Hammond went on to highlight the issue of business rates and indicate that in 2021, when rates are next scheduled to be revaluated, they will be adjusted to “reflect changes in rental values”.
In the period up to 2021, retailers in England with a rateable value of £51,000 or less will see their business rates cut by one third, according to the chancellor.
Commenting on that announcement, Mike Cherry from the Small Business Federation said: “Small businesses on our high streets that cannot get Small Business Rate Relief will be delighted with the significant discount for the next 2 years, which on average will help these businesses to the tune of almost £2,000 each, but potentially up to around £16,000 off small businesses facing the biggest bills.”
Mr Cherry also welcomed the news that the VAT threshold is to be frozen for the next two years and suggested that “small firms up and down the country will be pleased” to see that position being taken.
Britain’s retail sector has shed thousands of jobs over the course of 2018, with a string of well-known high street operators and large-scale employers having been forced out of business.
For its part, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) has described the chancellor’s Budget announcements as a missed opportunity to provide the “much-needed” support the UK’s retail sector really needs.
“While we welcome measures to assist smaller retailers, the majority of the UK’s 3.1 million retail workers are employed in businesses that will not benefit from today’s business rates announcement,” said Helen Dickinson, BRC chief executive.
“If the government is to truly back business, it must engage in more extensive business rates reform to help all retailers and their employees through this period of transformation.”