Small retailers will receieve a £1,000 cut in business rates within weeks as the Government injects £415m into high streets and town centres.
Eric Pickles, the secretary of state for the department for communities and local government, revealed the plans today as part of Chancellor George Osborne’s announcement in the Autumn Statement to ease the burden of business rates. His plans included capping the tax rise in April at 2% rather than the expected 3.2% increase, based on last September’s RPI rate of inflation.
Retailers have been urging Government to step in and tackle the system, which has forced many to restrict investment and job creation.
Some £300m will be made available to give 300,000 small retail firms £1,000 off their next tax bill, while £100m will be given to support critical business infrastructure in Enterprise Zones and £15m to establish new University Enterprise Zones in the eight largest UK cities.
Pickles said: “As part of our long term economic plan, we are backing business and enterprise right across the country, helping town centres and local industries to prosper, and building a stronger economy.
“This money for infrastructure will transform acres of Enterprise Zone land and build a stronger, more competitive business environment that will create up to 3000 jobs for hardworking people across the country.
“While our fully funded £1,000 retail discount will make a huge difference to 300,000 of the essential small shops and local traders we find in our town centres across the country.”
Small businesses which have premises with a rateable value of £50,000 or below are eligible for a £1,000 discount each year from 2014 to 2016. Councils should now automatically include the discount so businesses will receive it within weeks. But payday lenders, betting shops and pawn brokers have been excluded from the discount.
Pickles’ funding plan also includes investing in 12 Enterprise Zone bids in Harlow, Humber, Leeds, Sheffield, Discovery Park in Kent, Oxford, Daresbury, Alconbury, London’s Royal Docks, the Black Country, Nottingham and the Solent to turn dormant sites into “prime economic land” and create new jobs and businesses.
Universities in Birmingham, Bristol, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham and Sheffield can bid for part of a £15m fund to establish University Enterprise Zones.