UK government under pressure to halt business rate increase in Budget

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The British government is under pressure from business groups who are calling for a long proposed business rate increase to be halted as part of next week’s national budget.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, will present the first autumn budget next week and it’s hoped that the much criticised hikes in business rates, that will hit town centre businesses hard, will be delayed or scrapped entirely.

Adam Marshall is the director general of the British Chambers of Commerce and he expressed the worries that many SMEs have about the business rates increase that’s planned: “Businesses across Britain already face huge, and growing upfront costs, so hammering them with a giant 4% rates rise from next April would add insult to injury.

“Given the current climate of muted economic growth and Brexit uncertainty, the chancellor needs to act – and make it clear that he won’t use September’s inflation figures as the basis for business rates hikes next year. Better yet, he could abandon the uprating of rates for the next two years to incentivise investment and boost confidence.”

“Many companies are at a tipping point. They face mounting pressures from a combination of costs and taxes including rates, pensions auto-enrolment, the apprenticeship levy, insurance premium tax and the immigration skills charge, just to mention a few. These expenses stymie the ability of firms to invest, recruit and grow, which is exactly what ministers want business to be doing right now.”

Plenty of online traders, selling on ecommerce marketplaces such as eBay and Amazon, do also have bricks and mortar premises that will likely be hit by the business rate increase. Will you be affected?

As has been noted in press commentary, it is perhaps ironic that Amazon itself (which largely relies on out of town warehouses) may actually see a decrease in rates whilst retailers with town centre premises will be adversely impacted.

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