The Chancellor has used his last budget of this Parliament to reconfirm his commitment to carry out the most “far-reaching” and “radical” review into the business rates system in a generation.
The government first revealed that it would carry out a “comprehensive review” of the current outdated system during last year’s Autumn Statement. Its terms of reference were published this week.
It was also confirmed that the government would go ahead with further help on rates including the extension of both the small business rates relief for another year and transitional rate relief to support small business facing significant bill increases due to the ending of transitional rate relief.
Retailers will also see roll over for another year of the discount for retailers with properties of less than £50,000 rateable value.
The British Retail Consortium (BRC), said the Chancellor also included a number of announcements in the Budget “that stand to benefit the consumer as well as the retail industry more widely”.
Business rates review
Commenting on the business rates announcement in particular, Helen Dickinson, director general of the BRC, said: “We welcome [the] official announcement of a ‘radical’ review of the business rates system and we’re looking forward to working with the government throughout the process to make sure a new system is modern, sustainable and crucially – competitive.
“It’s important then to get the review process right, so that we don’t waste this great opportunity and can guarantee that we end up with a system which is better for business, better for local government and better for the communities that retailers and other rate payers serve every day.
“With cross-party political support for a fundamental review of business rates I’m confident that we can put an end to this drag on our local and national economy.”
National Insurance Contributions axed for under-21s
On the National Insurance Contributions announcement that also formed part of the budget, Dickinson added: “Young people are at the heart of the retail workforce – over a million of the 3 million people who work in retail are under 24 years old.
“The Chancellor’s abolition of NICs for under-21s lifts a significant burden from the industry and will allow retailers of all sizes to create new job opportunities for many more young people. The retail industry also employs almost 20% of the UK’s apprentices and we know that it’s a great way for young people to earn while they learn.
“Abolishing NICs for young apprentices will make it easier and more cost effective to employ and train them. Not only will this be welcomed byretailers and the wider business community, but also by the young people who will benefit from the opportunities that working as an apprentice brings.”
UKTI funding increase
“Increasing UKTI’s resources to double the support for British exporters to China is also a positive step forward. UK retailer’s brands are much in demand in China and our retail industry’s exports provide a great opportunity for the UK economy.”