George Osborne has said the results of the business rates review will be delayed until his next Budget. This is how the industry reacted.
In his autumn statement and spending review today, Chancellor George Osborne also confirmed the uniform business rate will be scrapped as powers are devolved to local councils, meaning mayors could potentially raise fees. Here we present the industry’s reaction:
“Business rates continue to be the elephant in the room with lots of talk and no action from Government to address this outdated tax.
“All we have heard is that, having failed to tackle the issue, the Government is now proceeding to gradually delegate the responsibility and the risk of reducing the rate of this outdated tax to local authorities. In practice this means more delays for business rate payers on a tax with a rate of almost 50%,” – Edward Cooke, British Council of Shopping Centres’ director of policy and public affairs
“It is encouraging that the Government appears to be taking their time to consider their options for fundamental review of the business rates system. We have long said that it would be better to take the time to get the solutions right on the first go and design a system that is fit for purpose.
“How rates reform will fit into the wider business tax roadmap will be a big question in 2016.
“The Chancellor needs to reduce the disproportionate burden of business rates on the industry and keep going with its review because this is the key to delivering the core of the Government’s reform programme.
“It is clear that devolution does not address the key problems of the rates system”
Helen Dickinson, BRC
“While we eagerly await the detail behind the plans to devolve rates to local authorities over the next few years it is clear that devolution does not address the key problems of the rates system.
“The Government is absolutely right to want to increase the number of apprenticeships but in doing so it must make sure the quality is increased too. We welcome the decision to establish a new employer-led body to set the standards and ensure quality.
“If left untouched the burdens on business will weigh the retail industry down. We are making a huge contribution to increasing wages and providing training and jobs. If retail is to do this successfully and not lose jobs in the future the Government will have to go beyond the devolution of business rates and deliver fundamental reform of the system early next year,” – BRC director general, Helen Dickinson
“We welcome the Chancellor’s commitment to extending small business rate relief in 2016 – this is a measure that helps businesses to the tune of over £1bn each year and is essential in giving local shops the opportunity to invest in their staff, property and services.
“Businesses need certainty to be able to effectively plan for the future, and we urge the Chancellor to consult with businesses as he develops these proposals”
James Lowman, ACS
“We are however disappointed that no announcement has been made on the continuation of the business rates discount of £1,500 for high street retailers. We argued for the Government to increase this discount and if the Chancellor scraps it, it will hurt businesses coming to terms with increased wage costs and uncertain rates bills.
“We still have significant concerns about the devolution of rate setting powers to local authorities, given how little existing discretionary rate relief setting powers have been used to support businesses.
“We’ll have to wait for the Budget in 2016 for more details on the Government’s review of business rates. Businesses need certainty to be able to effectively plan for the future, and we urge the Chancellor to consult with businesses now as he develops these proposals.” – ACS chief executive James Lowman
“What is more interesting in today’s announcement is what the Chancellor didn’t say. With the long-term review of business rates to be reported at the Budget 2016, there was nothing on the more substantive issues around how properties are valued and how ratepayers can access and challenge that information.
“We need to end the confusion surrounding rates and bring more transparency and fairness to the system. The Government’s latest proposals for reform does exactly the opposite”
Mark Rigby, CVS
“In the past two years, we have seen four separate Government consultations and an overarching review of the system – but no one is any clearer on what the Chancellor’s real vision is for business rates.
“We need to end the confusion surrounding rates and ultimately bring more transparency, openness and fairness to the system. The Government’s latest proposals for reform of the appeals system does exactly the opposite.” – Mark Rigby, chief executive of surveyors CVS