Autumn Budget fails to deliver fundamental reform of business rates, say critics

Industry insiders say the government’s Autumn Budget announcement “falls short of the truly fundamental reform of business rates promised in its 2019 manifesto.” Chancellor Rishi Sunak set out a number of changes to the system, including more frequent revaluations, relief on improvements and a one-year 50 per cent discount on rates for businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors. However, critics say the measures don’t go far enough to help those struggling after the covid crisis.

Helen Dickinson from the British Retail Consortium comments: “This budget is a missed opportunity for retail and the three million people who work in the industry, and it prevents retail from maximising its contribution to the government’s levelling up agenda.”

Bira CEO Andrew Goodacre adds: “The devil is in the detail. Reducing rates by 50 per cent next year is in fact a 100 per cent increase on what businesses are actually paying. While we welcome the use of rates relief to encourage investment and a shorter period between rates reviews, the problem is that 2022 will more about survival than investment.”

Don’t miss our November issue for further analysis on the 2021 Autumn Budget and Spending Review.