Budget 2018: Business rate relief planned to boost UK’s high street

Ahead of today’s Budget, which gets underway at 3:30pm, HM Treasury has revealed that £900 million in business rate relief will be introduced for nearly half a million small businesses (reports the BBC).

Reports indicate that in addition, a pot of £650 million will be allocated to “rejuvenate high streets and their transport links”.

The announcement comes just weeks after it was revealed retailers could pay an extra £190 million in business rates, after inflation hit 2.7% in August. Business rates are to be linked to the Consumer Price Index from this year.

The British Retail Consortium welcomed the pre-Budget rate relief announcement, but questioned the impact it will have: “While we hugely welcome the temporary support being given to small businesses, these measures alone are not sufficient to enable a successful reinvention of our high streets.

“Retailers are currently in the midst of a perfect storm of technology changing how people shop, rising public policy costs and softening demand. Struggling high streets require a broader outlook in order to thrive, particularly given the majority of the UK’s 3.1 million retail workers are employed in businesses that will not benefit from this announcement.

“The underlying issue remains that the business rates burden is simply too high and this unsustainable system needs less tinkering and more wholesale reform within the context of the wider taxation system.”

On the Future High Streets Fund and relaxation of planning laws, the BRC added: “Retailers welcome the measures announced by the Treasury to invest new funding to boost high streets and town centres and facilitate re-invention of many to modern and diverse destinations. We await with interest further details of the plans, particularly around how the funding will be targeted, who will eligible and how quickly funds will be made available.”