Spring Budget: “Desperately disappointing” lack of comment on business rates

15th March 2023 | Jack Oliver

The Chancellor’s lack of comment on business rates during today’s Spring Budget was “desperately disappointing”, says Colliers’ John Webber.

He added that there was “no reassurance” that the Government had engaged with the retail and hospitality industry, despite the new 2023 revaluation list going live in two weeks’ time.

Colliers has been a vocal campaigner for business rates reform, stating the current system is not fit for purpose and penalises the retail and hospitality sectors, deterring businesses from expanding and investing.

The head of business rates at the real estate company has previously laid out what steps he believes the Government should take with regards to rates.

Jeremy Hunt announced that some authorities will be able to retain their business rates to decide their use, while there would be rates relief in the 12 new investment zones. Despite this, Webber has shunned these moves as irrelevant:

“Business rates retentions are often a hospital pass- the local authorities are given more authority to spend funds raised- but the amount of money raised never fills the gap between what is raised and what is needed. Sometimes retention can be a real negative to the local authority with the impact of appeals and the risk of losses.”

He has also criticised a lack of comment about freezing the multiplier next year (2024/25), with Colliers predicting that retail and hospitality businesses will likely see a 5% increase in rates bills next April.

Webber adds: “The Chancellor spoke of creating a tax regime pro-business, that would be the envy of Europe. Yet the failure to reduce the multiplier fundamentally means business rates for retail and other sectors will rise from 2024 with inflation. This is the first time a new list will start with a multiplier over 50p. Nowhere else in Europe do businesses pay half the rental of their premises in property taxes and at current levels this is unsustainable and deters new investment in businesses, despite the Chancellor’s claims.

“This is a damning indictment for the Conservative Government who have failed their manifesto promise to reduce this tax.”


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