Chancellor George Osborne has shunned retailers calls for a freeze on business rate increases. Retail Week rounds up the reaction to the Budget in the retail sector.
“It’s very disappointing that the Chancellor has done nothing to halt next month’s business rates increase which will add another £175m to the half a billion pounds of rates rises that retailers have had to cope with over the last two years.
“One in nine high street shops is currently empty. An opportunity has been missed to make a difference to our troubled high streets and the communities that rely on them.
“It’s now even more important that the Government delivers tangible action on its existing promise to review the formula for setting rates in future.” - Helen Dickinson, director general British Retail Consortium
“It’s encouraging the Government’s confidence in build to rent has been reciprocated and we are delighted to see that the equity funding was heavily oversubscribed. Working in partnership with Government the sector should deliver an exciting and quality array of homes for renters.” - Ian Fletcher, director of policy at the British Property Federation
“The deferral of revaluation to 2017 will only serve to perpetuate the inequities that currently exist in the retail sector, and will lead to more administrations and ever-increasing retail vacancy levels.
“As the government isn’t going to change its decision soon, one measure that would definitely help in the short to medium term would be not to increase business rates in line with inflation until the 2017 revaluation. This would not fully stem the rise of administrations we have seen, but would certainly slow it down.” – Jonathan De Mello, head of retail consultancy CBRE
“Our immediate reaction is that the Chancellor’s announcement to increase infrastructure spending is a step in the right direction and will hopefully encourage development in our town centres, however the devil is in the detail and it will be cautiously welcomed by a retail industry that is questioning just how the Government will allocate this investment to the places it is needed most.” – Mark Bourgeois, managing director of Shopping Centres for Capital & Regional
“In among some gloomy growth figures, today’s Budget has included some popular tax-cutting measures, from corporation tax to beer and fuel. But more importantly are further policies to encourage home ownership which might be yet another shot in the arm for both the construction and retail sectors.
“However, the silence was deafening today on the issue of business rates. One of the largest operating costs for the retail industry, now set to increase by a further £875m over the next five years. And with the continued government intransigence on postponing the revaluation, it’s important to see through the gloss of today’s announcements.” - Edward Cooke, director of policy at the British Council of Shopping Centres
“Given the economic constraints within which the Chancellor was operating, it is unsurprising that this budget was far from revolutionary. Indeed, in total, it represented more of a reshuffling of the deckchairs than any fundamental shift in policy.” - Neil Saunders, managing director of consultancy Conlumino
“Now business rates have been overlooked in the Budget, we can only hope that the BIS Select Committee inquiry into the UK Retail Sector will address the problems, but action is needed sooner rather than later.” - Andrew Shufflebotham, head of retail and consumer at law firm Addleshaw Goddard
“The scrapping of the fuel duty rise, a cut to national insurance for employers and an increase to the personal allowance will be welcomed by the sector but, there will be clear disappointment over the lack of news on business rates which are set to rise again next month. The Government has said it will look at the system but, for the sector this review cannot come soon enough.” - Barclays, head of retail and wholesale, Richard Lowe
“We are delighted that thousands of our members will have the opportunity to benefit from Faster Payment Services. For small supermarkets and petrol forecourt stores, this will make a significant difference to cash flow, keeping more stores open and able to invest in their business and their community. We are working with the Treasury to ensure that this service is made available swiftly and at low cost to retailers.”
“We welcome the decision to freeze beer duty, this will benefit consumers and reduce some of the pressure on local shops losing trade to the illegal market. It’s a shame this benefit will not be shared by customers buying wine, spirits and cider.” – James Lowman, chief executive at the Association of Convenience Stores