90 per cent of small retailers to benefit from cut in business rates bills

The Chancellor, Philip Hammond, has confirmed business rates relief for almost half a million high street shops ahead of today’s Autumn Budget.

Mr Hammond is expected to announce a package including £900 million in business rates relief and a fund of around £650 million to help boost high streets and public transport links.

The fund comes after business leaders warned of “immense pressure” on high street shops to perform, with huge business rates bills causing small businesses to close at an unprecedented rate.

According to the Guardian newspaper, a Sheffield pub with an estimated rental value of £37,750 would be likely to save around £6,178 under the new rates system, while a Birmingham newsagent with a rental value of £14,250 could save around £1,749.

To qualify for the relief, business premises must have a rateable value of £51,000 or less. This means that around 90 per cent of small retailers would benefit from the proposals, with those cutting bills by around a third.

Welcoming the move, the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) said the fund will help keep high streets “at the heart of our communities”.

“Small firms are the lifeblood of our high street. They are under a huge amount of pressure, with current business rates bills adding to that ever-increasing strain. For far too long they have come up against an outdated and unfair rates system and it’s clear that change is needed,” said FSB National Chairman Mike Cherry.

But to make a “real difference” to every high street, the relief “needs to include hospitality and service businesses, not just retailers”, he added.

The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) also welcomed the Chancellor’s support package for UK high streets, saying that “this short-term reduction in rates will be very welcome news to those on the high street who require urgent respite”.

The Chancellor is expected to confirm his plans for business rates relief sometime after 15:30 GMT today, 29 October 2018.

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