Chancellor promises business rates review

Chancellor George Osborne has announced there will be a full review of the business rates structure in the UK.

In the Autumn Statement today, Osborne said there would also be more help for small businesses, by doubling business rates relief for a further year.

He will also cap inflation-linked increases in rates at 2% and will raise the rates discount for the high street by 50% to £1,500 next year.

He said in the Commons, that the business rates relief affected 500,000 firms and meant 250,000 firms paid no rates.

The Chancellor also encouraged business groups to engage in the business rate review.

This will come as a welcome relief to businesses up and down the high street, such as bakeries.

Campaigners, led by the British Retail Consortium, have been pushing for a change in business rates, claiming that online retailers are favoured.

The business rates were set to be reviewed in 2016, but the review has been introduced early.

Click here for a summary of the key points from the statement, which could affect your business.

What the industry is saying

Mike Holling, executive director at the Craft Bakers' Association, told British Baker:  "We would welcome any action from the government to aid the small business community . Especially in the reduction of business rates which will stimulate more growth in this industry. The cba is well aware that we have an election and we are lobbying very seriously to help improve the high street and make it a vibrant place to operate from."

John Allan, Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) national chairman has also responded to the Autumn Statement, and feels that the government has 'listened' to business needs.

He said: "The Chancellor has listened to the needs of business, despite tight public finances. The focus must be on reducing the deficit not just for this Government but whoever holds the keys to Number 11 next year. The FSB is delighted to see the double small business rate relief remain for another year and a full review of the outdated business rates system, something we’ve long argued for.

"The £400 million released to back the British Business Bank and an extension to the Funding for Lending scheme will provide much needed cash for small businesses."

Helen Dickinson, British Retail Consortium director general, said: "We very much welcome the commitment to undertake a comprehensive review of the business rates system.  We want a system that brings investment and jobs to the high street without punishing retailers who trade online. The retail industry is the largest rates payer, contributing over a quarter of the total rates tax take.

"Today’s short term support package will be of enormous help to those struggling to keep their businesses open on the high street.

Apprenticeships

The government is also making it cheaper for employers to take on an apprentice by abolishing employer National Insurance contributions for apprentices aged under 25 on earnings up to the upper earnings limit.

This means that employers of around half a million apprentices will be exempt from paying employer National Insurance contributions.

Larger businesses

Big multinational businesses will “pay their fair share”. To stop legal tax dodging, a new 25% tax on profits generated by multinationals that are shifted out of the UK has been introduced. This is set to raise £1bn over five years.

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