Every year, the Queen’s speech provides the government an opportunity to set out its legislative agenda for the next 12 months, indicating where the priorities will lie in departments that engage with our sector, such as the treasury, communities and local government, and business, energy and skills.
The headline announcement from the Queen’s speech surrounded ‘levelling up’, a term the government has been using in various guises in the past year or so, but which now has some concrete ambitions.
On the face of it, the ambitions of the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill are welcome.
Stopping properties from being empty for more than a year in town centres, for example, should be a step forward, but we must ensure there aren’t unintended consequences that could have the opposite effect in the short term as prospective tenants wait it out for cheaper auction rates.
Also in the speech was a commitment to introduce a non-domestic business rates bill, which is set to include ways to encourage investment through a delay in the increase in rates for 12 months.
This is a step the ACS has been calling on the government to introduce for years, and it will mean businesses don’t face two sets of costs for investing.
Another announcement that will be welcome news for thousands of retailers is a commitment to protect access to cash, in terms of places to deposit cash and places to withdraw it.
We’ll be working with members to go through the detail of what these proposals mean, but all eyes will be looking to the prime minister and chancellor to see what they have planned before the autumn Budget to ease the pain for businesses and consumers.
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