On December 3, the Chancellor will deliver the Autumn Financial Statement.
This is one of the most important times in the ACS calendar as, along with the Budget, it sets out the Government’s financial policies for the year ahead. This December’s Autumn Statement is one of the key milestones that will shape the tone of the General Election in May, making its contents all the more important.
Last year the Chancellor helped our sector with a series of welcome measures on business rates, and we hope this year he will go further.
At ACS’ Heart of the Community event a few weeks ago, we announced a series of measures to make the business rates system fairer to local shops. These include introducing a permanent 2% cap on annual increases in line with the Government’s inflation targets; increasing the small business rate multiplier threshold from £18,000 to £50,000 rateable value, which would bring almost all convenience stores into the same bracket; increasing the frequency of revaluations by the Valuation Office Agency to once every three years, and promoting a greater use of discretionary rate relief in supporting high streets – an issue which we’re currently working with the department of Communities and Local Government on to provide specific advice to local authorities on how they can make use of discretionary relief powers.
It is time for Government to accept that it cannot increase the revenue it takes from businesses through property tax year after year without choking off the investment we need in our high streets, parades and other local centres.
There is growing political consensus that something needs to be done to tackle the burden of business rates. Now we need more action from the Chancellor.