As announced in this year’s Budget, small retailers based in England will see their business rates reduced by a third.

The reduction will be applicable to retail properties with a rateable value below £51,000 for two years from April 2019, subject to state aid limits.

The Chancellor has said that this will result in an annual saving of £8,000 for up to 90% of all independent shops, pubs, restaurants and cafes.

The decision to reduce business rates for small retailers is part of a series of measures designed to support the UK’s High Street which is currently under the pressures of high costs and growing competition from online retailers. In 2017 alone, 5,855 High Street stores closed in the UK – more than in any other year since 2010.

While industry bodies have welcomed the boost, some have argued that the system needs wider reform.

Carolyn Fairbairn, director-general at the Confederation of British Industry, commented:

“Smaller businesses will be relieved by the support on business rates at a time where the current system is crippling many high streets. But larger retailers and manufacturers – and the millions they employ across the UK – will continue to suffer needlessly until there is a full, in-depth review.”

Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, added:

“Retailers are currently in the midst of a perfect storm of factors – technology changing how people shop, rising public policy costs and softening demand. Rather than tinkering around the edges, struggling high streets require wholesale reform of business rates in order to thrive.

She continued:

“The issue remains that the business rates burden is too high.”

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