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Chamber welcomes government moves to ease business rates burden

As part of the government’s long-term economic plan, the biggest package of business rate support in over 20 years to help high streets went live yesterday.

Milton Keynes Chamber of Commerce chief executive Paul Griffiths (pictured) said: “Small retailers have just an important role as the larger businesses in helping to revive the local economy.

"Milton Keynes Chamber of Commerce, along with its national organisation the British Chambers of Commerce, has long been campaigning for a review of the business rates system as it is one of the biggest costs in running a business.”

Many businesses already receive 100% discount as a result of government policy. The tax changes that come into effect at the start of the new tax year mean nearly 300,000 eligible small shops in England will benefit further.

In some case this could give a typical small shop, pub or restaurant with a rateable value of £10,000 savings of 30% extra or more when compared to last year’s business rate bill. 

In addition to the new business rate discounts, specially targeted to support small shops, all businesses can now choose to spread their bill payments over 12 monthly installments rather than ten after rules were changed to give businesses greater control over their cash flow.

Mr Griffiths said: “The 2% cap on business rate inflation increase and doubling of the small business rate relief until 31 March 2015 shows the government has been listening to our concerns.

“It will give smaller retailers some breathing space so they can concentrate on investing and employing extra staff.”
Eric Pickles, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, said the new measures would make a huge difference for struggling small shop owners and help businesses and high streets across the country build a stronger economy. 

“A key part of the government’s long-term economic plan is to back business with lower taxes. Small shops are the lifeblood of local economies, and the changes will mean a massive boost to our town centres, helping to create more jobs and securing a better future for our children.”

The full list of business rate support measures, unveiled by the Chancellor in the Autumn Statement, that take effect on 1 April 2014 are:

  • A new reoccupation discount of 50% for 18 months for new occupants of retail premises that have previously been empty for a year or more
  • Allowing businesses to pay their bills over 12 months (rather than 10), which will help every firm with their cash flow
  • A 2% cap on business rate inflation increase.
  • The new £1,000 business rates discount for local shops, cafes, restaurants and pubs (up to a Rateable Value of £50,000) estimated as more than £272 million of tax relief this year
  • The doubling of the extension of the small business rate relief until 31 March 2015, which will mean 360,000 business properties pay no bill at all.