Government announces review on retail rates

The government has announced it will be undertaking the biggest review of national business rates in a generation.

This announcement comes as statistics revealed that more stores closed than opened in 2014, making business rate discounts even more crucial to Britain.

On average around 16 stores closed every day in 2014, with clothes and shoe shops most affected. New measures for small businesses are set to come into effect in April and will help ease the burden on high street retailers.

Commenting on the proposed business rates reform, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander, said: “Our system of business rates was created nearly 30 years ago. Since that time, the worlds of commerce and industry have changed beyond recognition. I’ve been impressed by the representations made by the business community and I know that business rates are a considerable cost.”

The system is currently paid on 1.8 million properties in the UK and the review will look at the way businesses use property, what the UK can learn from other countries and how the system could be modernised to better reflect changes in the value of property.

Measures to help businesses will start in April, including increasing the business rates discount for smaller retail premises with a rateable value of under £5000. This will benefit around 300,000 shops, cafes, pubs and food outlets, as well as ensuring 385,000 small business will pay no rates at all.

The Chief Secretary to the Treasury said: “Today’s announcement follows the government’s commitment in December to conduct a review of business rates and implement a £1 billion package to reduce the costs of business rates in 2015 and 2016, with particular support for the smallest businesses and the high street.”

With a high number of store closures taking place in 2014, it is hoped that these discounts will ease the pressure on retailers and increase the survival rates for shops around the country.

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