Independent retailers with rateable values of £51,000 or under will see their business rates bill cut by a third as part of the Autumn Budget.  

Chancellor Philip Hammond said the changes will take effect from April 2019 until the next business rates revaluation in 2021. 

According to Hammond, the changes will represent an average saving of £8,000 per property. “High streets are under pressure as Britain adapts to online shopping,” he said. “If the high streets are to remain, they need to adapt and we are supporting them in doing so.

“We’re providing funding to help councils transform their high streets, while we’re going to help small businesses with the high fixed costs of business rates.”

In response, NFRN president Mike Mitchelson told RN: “The chancellor has been listening to retailers on business rates, which are a huge problem. We would have liked to see a 100% rates relief for small businesses, however.”

A £675m ‘Future High Streets Fund’ will also be introduced to help councils improve high streets. 

The fund is designed to help increase public access to high streets, reduce congestion and support the conversion of disused retail spaces into residential areas.

National living wage for full-time workers will also rise from £7.83 to £8.21 per hour in April, equalling a £690 annual increase per employee.

Other announcements included a consultation to tax manufacturers who produce single-use plastic packaging that contains less than 30% recycled material from April 2022. 

Duty on beer, cider, spirits and fuel are frozen. However, duty on tobacco will rise by 2% above inflation, which will add 33p to some packs of cigarettes and 48p to some 30g pouches of rolling tobacco.  

Mitchelson added: “The tobacco duty rise could lead to an increase in illicit trade, and the government must increase its level of enforcement alongside it.”

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