“I know what hard work it is to get a business to grow,” Chancellor Philip Hammond told Parliament as he delivered the Budget last week.
He followed this by saying that he would be bringing forward his plan to switch from using retail price index (RPI) to set business rates to consumer price index (CPI) to April next year.
The switch takes £266m out of the planned business rates rise next year, but it does little to ease the pressure on small businesses. They will still be hit by a 3% increase in rates, heaping more pressure on the huge rises many had to deal with this year.
According to data from a freedom of information request filed by ratings advisory firm Altus Group, more than 83,000 businesses were hauled in front of magistrates for failing to pay their business rates in the five months from April this year.
In his Budget, Hammond also said he wanted businesses to be able to plan and invest with confidence, but his promises for small shops on business rates aren’t a huge help.
The industry needs to continue to raise the issue of councils holding back on distributing discretionary rate relief so that those struggling the most get the helping hand they need.