The British Independent Retailers Association (bira) has commented on Chancellor George Osborne’s 2015 Autumn Statement, which was delivered yesterday (Wednesday November 25).
The association said: “The Chancellor put his hand into the Autumn Statement hat and pulled out … a continuation of the small business rate scheme for another year! But small retailers and leisure operators have found that the £1,500 business rates discount has magically disappeared from their pockets without a trace.
“In the past two years, most small shops have benefitted crucially from the discount on premises with a rateable value of £50,000 or less (the average rateable value of shops in England and Wales is £27,290), so the loss of this will hit most small shops directly – and very hard.
“The Chancellor also kept the business rates reform rabbit safely in the hat, announcing that the results of the structural review will not now be finally announced until the Budget, reverting to the original plan.”
Bira ceo Alan Hawkins commented: “This will hurt High Streets as soon as April next year, and small shops will see bills rise even higher than they already would have, as the rates multiplier will increase then as well. “Committing to announce the conclusions of the reform review in the Budget at least gives us a date to concentrate on, and a chance for the government to adopt, bira’s reform proposals.”
He continued: “Make no mistake, High Street pain is not over. Vacancy rates are still more than twice pre-crash levels and more small shops are now closing than opening. The Chancellor must make sure that the next rabbit he pulls out of the hat is real, positive, long term reform of this crippling tax. It would help if he also reinstated the £1,500 discount in the Budget.”