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Finally, a government addressing the business rates fiasco

Regardless of your political colours, small businesses up and down the land will be pleased to hear of at least one policy which looks set to survive the transition from manifesto wish lists to actual policy and legislation, and that is a business rates overhaul.

The prime minister, Boris Johnson, yesterday commended the Queen’s Speech containing his government’s agenda, and among the points raised by the monarch was this very issue.

The changes will reportedly affect everything from retail and restaurant premises (two of the hardest hit sectors under recent high street squeezes), through to advice and consultancy firms. The double-blow of soaring rents and rates has been correctly blamed for the several years of carnage we have seen on the high street.


Stalwarts of retail like Debenhams and House of Fraser, as well as their counterparts in casual dining like Pizza Express and Carluccios, have suffered tremendously over the last 24 months, with dozens of administrations, restructurings, redundancy exercises and full blown bankruptcies harmonising uncomfortably with the political stew of Brexit, minority government and protests.

Now, finally, not only do we have a government with the numbers to actually govern, but a PM who appears to recognise the importance of small business and the pressure it is under.

With five years in power, I sincerely hope there are more ideas to come from Johnson and his team where SMEs are concerned. Innovative tax relief for a wider definition of R&D, low tax investment zones, an eventual cut in corporation tax, would all be welcome among the small business community.

We are all desperate for an environment in which growth can be pursued with lower risk and less volatility than we have become accustomed to in recent years. With only a few days of the new government in office, it is impossible to tell whether they will be able to deliver, but at least they are making the right noises from the off.

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