Business rates will be cut by one-third for smaller shops, chancellor Philip Hammond announced in his Autumn Budget today.
Speaking at the House of Commons, Hammond said he recognised small retailers were “struggling to cope” with high fixed costs including business rates.
Over the next two years, the government will cut the rates bill by one third for businesses with a rateable value of less than £51,000 for two years from April 2019.
Hammond said it was an average annual saving of £8,000 for 90% of independent businesses.
He added that he has already introduced business rates relief worth £12bn. The next rates revaluation will take place in 2021.
The chancellor said high streets were “embedded in the fabric of our cities, towns and villages,” and were “under more pressure than ever before” due to the growth in online retailing. In response, the government has announced a £675m Future High Street Fund to support local councils to invest in improvements and redevelop unused areas.
Hammond also announced a digital services tax for “tech giants”. He said it would not be a tax on online sales, and will only be paid by firms that are profitable and generate £500m or more in annual revenue. The tax will come into effect in April 2020 and will raise £400m a year.
The apprenticeship levy will be slashed from 10% to 5% for smaller businesses, as part of a £695m package to support apprenticeships.
A new tax will be introduced on plastic packaging containing less than 30% recyclable plastic.
Hammond said it was a “Budget for Britain’s future” and added that “the era of austerity is coming to an end, but discipline will remain”.