• National living wage to rise to £7.50 from next April 
  • Reduction on business rates transitional relief cap
  • New national prodcutivity investment fund of £23bn

Chancellor Philip Hammond has confirmed the minimum wage for those 25 or over will rise to £7.50 an hour next year.

In his Autumn Statement speech today, Hammond said the rise in the national living wage will take effect from next April.

It is a 4% rise on the current level of £7.20, introduced by Hammond’s predecessor George Osborne. 

A number of retailers have come in for criticism over changes to their pay schemes in response to the living wage.

In his first major fiscal speech to Parliament, Hammond also revealed a move to bring down the cap for transitional business rates relief from 45% to 43% next year.

The year after it will be lowered from 50% to 32%.

West End retailers are among those facing significant hikes in their business rates from next April, under new levels published in September.

Hammond branded the move on transitional relief “good news”, but some commentators claimed it will have little impact for the majority of businesses.

Among the other plans revealed by Hammond were:

  • A new national productivity investment fund worth £23bn, which will focus on innovation and infrastructure. Raising productivity is essential for the “high wage, high skill economy we want”, said Hammond
  • Move to doube the UK’s export finance capacity to make it “easier for British businesses to export” says Hammond
  • More than £1bn for digital infrastructure 
  • Corporation tax will fall to 17% by 2020 as previously announced

BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said: “Today’s modest but targeted measures by the Chancellor to boost productivity are to be applauded.

“The new National Productivity Investment Fund has the potential to make a real difference. So too do the plans to improve the UK’s connectivity, with funding for digital infrastructure benefiting the entire UK.

“Retailers and other businesses on the high street will benefit from further investment to improve local transport networks. Taken together these measures should support the retail industry as it seeks to improve its own productivity.” 

Hammond also revealed the main Budget will move to the autumn and a ‘spring statement’ will instead happen around March.