Industry bodies including the British Independent Retailers Association and the Confederation of British Industry have said the 2015 budget is “encouraging” and a “positive step forward” for the retail industry.
Today (March 18) the Chancellor George Osborne confirmed a pilot scheme will be launched in Cambridgeshire, Peterborough, Greater Manchester and Cheshire East enabling those areas to retain 100% of any additional business rate growth to reinvest locally.
Helen Dickinson, British Retail Consortium director general, said:
“We welcome today’s official announcement of a ‘radical’ review of the business rates system and we’re looking forward to working with the government throughout the process to make sure a new system is modern, sustainable and crucially - competitive. It’s important then to get the review process right, so that we don’t waste this great opportunity and can guarantee that we end up with a system which is better for business, better for local government and better for the communities that retailers and other rate payers serve every day.”
John Cridland, Confederation of British Industry director general, said:
“Stability and consistency are what businesses need to grow and prosper. This budget sets the tone, providing a clear plan for fiscal health and growth. This budget has some encouraging measures to help businesses create jobs for the benefit of all. The reduction of the headline rate of corporation tax to 20% next month, is a meaningful step in making the UK the most competitive tax regime in the G20 and will help to attract investment. Giving savers greater freedom over their pensions, including creating a secondary annuities market, boosts choice but after a period of flux what’s needed now is breathing space for the industry and consumers to get to grips with all the changes.”
Edward Cooke, director of policy and public affairs, British Council of Shopping Centres said:
“It’s been a good week for business. Today the Chancellor has pushed ahead with ‘rates for the regions’; Manchester and Cambridge will keep 100% of their business rates growth. And we can expect others to push at that door too. The government is offering ‘goodies not gimmicks’ in its final pre-election budget, but we must keep focus on the real news for the retail property industry, which came 48 hours beforehand: a chance of meaningful reform of the business rates system to bring this tax in line with twenty first century retailing. The challenge now will be to ensure that, in a period of big vote-winning promises; business rates reform is not only delivered but is radical enough to make a difference to millions of businesses.”
Alan Hawkins, chief executive at British Independent Retailers Association said:
“The business rates review is key for us, if it is wide ranging it will really sort out the cost base of the high street. We are happy to see the personal tax allowance go up as this will increase spend in shops. The Chancellor spoke of the positivity in the economy but it has been a torrid four years on the high street and those benefits are not hitting retail yet.”
British Property Federation chief executive, Melanie Leech, said:
“Allowing cities to retain the proceeds of growth from new development is a vital tool for local authorities. These pilots will give them the freedom to provide the local infrastructure improvements necessary to encourage development to take place, and will allow them to take a properly strategic view of how they grow their economies. At present, the vast majority of local authorities simply do not have the long-term certainty that is required to use business rates income in this way, so we hope that this is the start of a journey that will see greater powers devolved to towns and cities across the UK.”