Industry experts say chancellor’s failure to address business rates will lead to price increases

Business rates were notably absent from the government’s “growth plan” say industry insiders, which will push up prices as squeezed retailers struggle to absorb the cost.

Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng outlined several key measures in his now-infamous mini budget last month, which included subsidised energy bills for businesses, a freeze on corporation tax and VAT-free shopping for overseas visitors.

While experts say some of the measures will help small business owners get through what will be a challenging winter ahead, the support doesn’t go far enough to prevent rising prices: “Retailers are facing immense cost pressures not just from energy bills, but also a weak pound, rising commodity prices, high transport costs, a tight labour market and the cumulative burden of government-imposed costs,” says the British Retail Consortium’s Helen Dickinson OBE. “Business rates are set to jump by 10 per cent next April, inflicting another £800m in unaffordable tax rises on already squeezed retailers. It is inevitable that such additional taxes will ultimately be passed through to families in the form of higher prices.”

Bira CEO Andrew Goodacre says the industry is awaiting the chancellor’s planned financial statement on Wednesday 23 November, which will outline the government’s medium to long-term plans: “Clearly, we have a government that wants to do things differently and I urge the chancellor to completely reform businesses rates and reduce the burden in November,” he says.