Chancellor Rishi Sunak revealed a £30bn package to combat coronavirus, including a business rates suspension for small businesses in his first spring Budget today.
Speaking at the House of Commons, Sunak announced the government’s “plans for prosperity for tomorrow”. This included a £30bn package to help the economy get through the coronavirus outbreak.
Among the measures was the suspension of business rates for firms with a rateable value below £51,000 for a year.
Just 10% of all retail properties in England exceed £51,000 in rateable value. However, they account for 69% of the overall business rates burden for the sector, real estate adviser Altus Group has said.
Despite speculation, no other immediate reform was announced for the tax. Instead, the chancellor announced the launch of a fundamental review of business rates, due to report in autumn.
Ed Cooke, chief executive of Revo, said: “The chancellor has once again neglected to support larger retailers, who are major employers, and drivers of economic activity in towns and cities across the UK, particularly in those communities that lent their votes to the Conservative Party last December.
“Attention will now turn to the business rates review. The chancellor seems to have broken its fiscal neutrality rule in favour of ‘reducing the burden on business’ – if this is the case, it could be excellent news but must apply to retail and leisure occupiers of all sizes.”
As part of the coronavirus measures in the Budget, Sunak offered statutory sick pay for “all those who are advised to self-isolate”, even if they have not displayed symptoms.
The chancellor warned of a significant but temporary disruption to the UK economy, but pledged: “We will get through this together.
“We are doing everything we can to keep this country and our people healthy, and financially secure.”
Sunak also announced that by 2024 National Living Wage would increase to £10.50/hour. In the next three weeks the National Insurance threshold will rise from £8,632 to £9,500.
Fuel duty will be frozen for the 10th consecutive year, as will taxes on spirits, beer, cider and wine.
A new plastic packaging tax will come into force from April 2022. Manufacturers and importers whose products contain less than 30% recyclable material will be charged £200 per ton.