Our front page proudly echoes George Osborne’s claim, made at the despatch box last Wednesday, that he has delivered a “budget for small business”.
Was everything he said brilliant for small businesses? No, of course not. But he seems to have delivered a real winner.
Business rates are crippling for small business. Before the Budget, James Lowman of the ACS wrote on betterRetailing that we needed “decisive action aimed at making the business rates system fairer and less costly.” This is a valuable step toward that.
This is the one key issue that our sector needed help with. And he has delivered
There are caveats to it, of course – why he is waiting four years to change the measure of rates to CPI rather than RPI is a mystery. But broadly, this is the one key issue that our sector needed help with. And he has delivered.
Elsewhere, it is mixed. A sugar tax seems like a strange headline-grabbing way to tackle what we now all have to call the “growing obesity crisis”. However, there are two years for the industry to act, and the range of unaffected low- and no-calorie drinks available is big and growing.
Tobacco is mixed in itself. A huge win for retailers is the £31m support to tackle the illegal trade in non-duty paid tobacco – but if tackling this is the key aim, increasing the duty on hand rolling tobacco to 5% seems barmy.
If you want first-hand experience of the value of lobbying Government, repeating your concerns and talking about the key issues, business rates is it.
There are many issues affecting the hard-working retailers in this channel. But maybe now he is listening, we can start working on solving more of them.