Autumn Statement 2013: Chancellor introduces new reoccupation relief for vacant town centre shops, halving rates for new occupants
The Chancellor has announced a package of measures to ease the impact of soaring business rates on struggling retailers.
But as expected he dashed the sector’s hope of a full-scale review of the rates, blamed for contributing to the dramatic decline in some of Briain’s High Streets.
In addition to a widely trailed cap on increases at 2 per cent, George Osbone said he would hand new occupants of vacant properties with a tax relief to half rates.
For the next two years every premises with rateable values of up to £50,000 will get discounts worth £1000 off bills.
It comes amid a background of rising protest at the impact of business rates with disproportionately impact on the High Street, where rateable values are higher than the cheap locations favoured by warehouses used by online retailers.
According to a survey by the ConservativeHome website, party members make cutting rates their third priority for the Autumn Statement ahead of even reductions to fuel duty or inheritance tax.
The cap on rises at 2 per cent, said British Retail Consortium Director General Helen Dickinson, “could safeguard 7,500 retail jobs and provide a boost to local communities, allowing more shops to stay open on our high streets”.
But she added: “In the longer term, reform of the business rates system is still essential.”
SuperGroup founder Julian Dunkerton is one retailer who has said the rates prevent him opening new stores in some areas.
The BRC is currently investigation options for improving the system, working with tax experts at EY and a broad range of industry stakeholders.
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