Bira calls on government to offer more detail on business rates relief

The British Independent Retailers Association (Bira) is urging the government to offer further clarification on how it will reduce business rates next year, following the Autumn Budget.

Chancellor Philip Hammond announced that business rates will be slashed by up to a third for businesses with a rateable value of up to £51,000, which is considerably higher than the current threshold of £12,000. Set to come into effect in April next year, he says the move will see 90 per cent of independent businesses saving £8,000 on average per year.

According to Bira, details of how the relief will be achieved are so far unclear. It proposes that the government removes the threshold and introduces an allowance to reach this effectively.

CEO Andrew Goodacre comments: “We have worked very hard in the past few months to promote our idea to reduce rates for independent retail businesses. The relief in the Autumn Budget is a positive move by the government but more detail is needed, and quickly, if the high streets are to become a vibrant part of our communities. We hope therefore that the government will continue to work with the sector to ensure that this policy is effectively rolled out and benefits those it is meant to.”

Goodacre also says Bira welcomes the government’s proposal to establish a £675 million fund to help rejuvenate the high street. Sixteen shops closed every day in 2017 and “this fund could be used to bring people back to the high street by addressing parking, public transport and planning issues.”

He adds: “Bira has always promoted high streets as an integral part of our local communities. Independent retail businesses provide the diversity needed on any high street. We welcome the creation of a fund that will help high streets adjust to the future needs of shoppers.”

Philip Hammond will appear before the Treasury Select Committee at 4.30pm today to answer questions on his recent Budget