Changes to the business rates system could be on the cards for the Autumn Budget next month, according to Secretary of State for Business Greg Clark who described the status of the government’s rate review.

Speaking at the Federation of Small Businesses’ fringe event at the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester, the MP said the party’s review of business rates is at an “advanced stage”. The move follows strong criticism over rates increases in April which disproportionately affect independent retailers.

However, Chancellor Phillip Hammond later told the Treasury Committee that the business rate review and budget announcement may be related to to the “staircase tax” element of business rates, which sees business charged extra rates for operating on different levels. The staircase element of business rates affects nearly no convenience retailers.

However, rates specialists CVS claimed the Conservatives are considering capping appeals for overpayment of rates to six months, costing small retailers thousands of pounds. The ACS added that a business rates announcement in the Budget must fix what it described as a “flawed” appeals system.

Elsewhere at the conference, Theresa May pledged further wage increases in line with the party’s manifesto, while MP Paul Uppal was appointed small business commissioner, a new role designed to “empower small businesses”.