Spring Budget: Chancellor must not miss opportunity for business rates reform

14th March 2023 | Jack Oliver

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt must not miss the opportunity for fundamental business reforms, says the head of business rates at Colliers, John Webber.

Ahead of Wednesday’s Spring budget, Webber said that the changes implemented by Jeremy Hunt in the Autumn Statement, such as freezing the multiplier and abolishing downwards transition in the next revaluation, were “merely putting a sticking plaster on a gaping wound.”

Webber has called on the Government to reduce the multiplier to around 34 pence to the pound, it is currently frozen at 51.2p (and 49.9p for small businesses), which he describes as unsustainably high.

“Nowhere else in Europe do businesses pay half the rental value of premises in property taxes. Set at this level, business rates deter new investment in business”, said Webber.

He has also proposed that the Government extend retail reliefs beyond 2024. Currently, business rates relief for retail and hospitality premises has risen from 50% to 75% in 2023-24, however this only applies for the first £110,000 of business rates paid. Webber has urged for a reconsideration and has called for a tapering scheme to be applied “at the least”.

Webber has also called for relief reviews every three years to ensure rates are paid at a “fair” level, and suggests an annual revaluation should be implemented.

Other changes urged by Webber include extending empty property rates relief to 12 months and to other sectors, improved transparency from the Valuation Office Agency, to reform an “unfriendly and ill-equipped appeal system”, and to address “rogue” ratings advisors through regulation of the industry.

He concludes: “We urge the Chancellor not to ignore the call for urgent reform and use Budget 2023 to encourage investment and growth and help retail and hospitality businesses floundering in this over burdensome and unfair system.”


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