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bira’s response to the budget

In response to the Chancellor’s budget yesterday; bira welcomes some of the practical details such as boosting the housing market by house building, investing in technology and reducing the stamp duty to first time buyers. All of which should feed into greater retail spending in due course. However, perhaps the most worrying part of the budget is the downgrading of the countries’ growth targets for the next five years. Without a growing economy and consumer confidence the Government will not be able to meet its myriad of requests on its finances. What is needed is more certainty over the Brexit issue, which bira believes is the central cause for the slowing of the economy in the UK. The Government needs to sort this out and move on quickly.

bira have been, and continue to be really active in championing the bricks and mortar retailers who are facing an unfair burden of business rates compared to those trading online, and therefore, the tinkering with the rates reform, which whilst welcome, is nowhere near enough and will not slow down the pressures on the high street and independent retailers. The high street can deliver the productivity growth that the Government is looking for, but the issues around this unfair tax need to be cleared out of the way first.

In summary, the main Government commitment is on the below points, none of which is negative per se, but clearly does not go far enough to address the imbalance currently faced by independent retailers:

  • bringing forward the planned switch in indexation from RPI to CPI to 1st April 2018
  • drafting legislation shortly that will address the so-called “staircase tax” by allowing affected businesses to ask the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) to recalculate valuations so that bills are based on previous practice backdated to April 2010;
  • a continuation of the £1,000 business rate discount for public houses with a rateable value of up to £100,000, for one year from 1 April 2018, and
  • increasing the frequency with which the VOA revalues non-domestic properties by moving to revaluations every three years following the next revaluation, currently due in 2022.