Autumn Statement – How Business Rate changes will affect the High Street

| December 2014

The Association of Town & City Management (ATCM) has welcomed measures in the 2014 Autumn Statement to extend rate relief for high street businesses but calls for further action to ensure that cuts to high street businesses’ operating costs are permanent and UK wide. This will help grow jobs and sustain local and regional economic regeneration thus strengthening the UK’s economic outlook.

ATCM members in Wales and Northern Ireland also note the Chancellor’s intention to devolve Business Rates to the Welsh Government and Corporation Tax rate setting to the Northern Ireland Assembly and, while welcoming the proposed devolution of powers, call for an early release of the details and timetabling in terms of implementation.

George Osborne MP announced that he would be extending support for small business by extending the doubling of Small Business Rate Relief and the 2% cap on the RPI annual increase to April 2016. This comes at a time when business rates have become widely acknowledged as a damaging curb on the profitability of businesses, negatively affecting their investment decisions. Not just small business but all companies seeking to invest in the UK are increasingly taking a long, hard look at the costs of operating here as opposed to in other OECD countries.

ATCM Chairman, Alexander Nicoll, welcomed the announcement, saying:

“Business rates have become completely divorced from the actual economic performance of bricks and mortar based businesses in the UK. During the past few years there have been strong downward pressures on sales and margins for many businesses, but the operation of business rates takes little account of real-time economic realities. This impacts on the efforts of ATCM members and others working to keep UK high streets open for business and attractive locations for commercial property investment. Support from the Government on this issue is highly welcome and ATCM is also encouraged that the Chancellor has signalled a full-scale review of the current business rates model albeit with the intention of achieving change while maintaining fiscal neutrality.”

ATCM looks forward to engaging with the review announced by the Chancellor in his Autumn Statement and calls for early publication of details setting out the precise scope, method and timetable of the proposed review of the existing business rates system.

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