Budget 2017: New £300m fund for business rates relief

 
Helen Cahill
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High Street Shops Braced For April Business Tax Increases
Business groups have been pressing the government for changes to business rates (Source: Getty)

The government has promised to help cushion the blow of business rates with a £300m relief fund for local authorities.

Chancellor Philip Hammond has also committed to "smoother and more frequent" business rates revaluations.

In addition, small pubs will be getting a £1,000 business rate discount this year - a tax cut that will help 90 per cent of pubs - and there will be an extra £110m set aside to help small businesses coming out of business rates relief.

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The new fund will be allocated to local authorities by a formula, and individual areas will decide which businesses should be given the relief.

The government's measures amount to a total £435m cut for UK rate payers. The new £110m fund for businesses coming out of small business rate relief will mean none of these rate payers will have their bill increase by more than £50 per month this year.

Hammond said he would not abolish business rates but had "listened to the concerns" of businesses. However, he did not alter the government's new plans for how businesses appeal against valuations, which several business lobby groups had been fighting for.

Debbie Warwick, head of rating at property consultancy Daniel Watney LLP, said Hammond's lack of movement on the valuations system would "wholly undermine confidence in the tax system" and could put thousands of firms out of business.

Ewan Venters, chief executive of Fortnum & Mason, said:

While I accept that the business rates system does need modernisation, London will be hit disproportionately when the law changes on 1 April. To give that some context, our rates at Fortnum's will increase by 49 per cent, and it will be hard for some businesses to cope with such a hike. Nevertheless, it is reflective of London's success as a global commercial powerhouse.

On the other hand, the reduction in rates across many high streets and communities across the country will help support a much needed rejuvenation of the British high street.

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