Hammond poised to reduce burden of business rates in Autumn Budget

Helen Cahill
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Business rate changes came into effect at the beginning of April (Source: Getty)

The chancellor could be set to alleviate the burden of business rates in his upcoming Autumn Budget by reducing an increase in the tax due in April next year.

The 2018 rise in business rates is currently pegged to the retail prices index, meaning firms face a £1.1bn hike in property taxes.

Business groups have been lobbying the government for a rise tied to the consumer prices index, and some have called for business rate rises to be completely frozen.

Read more: Councils under pressure after delays to business rates relief

Philip Hammond is now poised to opt for a CPI-linked increase, according to the Sunday Times.

Tom Ironside, business and regulation policy director at the BRC, said a cap on business rate rises would be a "step forward".

"Without decisive action from the chancellor in his upcoming Budget then retailers face a stark £270m leap in their rates bill from April," he said.

"This would have consequences for retailers' investment plans, especially for investment in new or refurbished stores in town centres and in less economically viable locations."

However, John Webber of Colliers International described the plan as "tinkering at the edges".

"We still have a business rates system that needs a proper reform, including a move to more frequent valuations," he said.

Read more: Unjustified business rates are a hungover relic from before the internet

"In particular the new Check Challenge Appeal System has been disastrous, with businesses finding it virtually impossible to navigate around the new system to appeal against unfair business rates."

The pressure on the Treasury comes after business rates were re-evaluated for the first time in seven years in April. The changes, which were linked to rental prices of commercial properties, resulted in hefty tax rises in the centre of London.

After complaints from businesses, Hammond announced a £300m relief package for the worst-affected firms.

However, there have been significant delays to the delivery of the relief. Councils were asked to devise their own methods for delivering the funds, and some opted to undertake public consultations, instead of immediately handing out the relief.

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