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Business rates relief is a sticking plaster, say indies

Chancellor George Osborne has failed to win support from small fashion retailers for the business rate measures outlined in his final Autumn Statement on Wednesday.

Osborne revealed the inflation-linked increase of business rates will be capped at 2% next year, and pledged further relief for small businesses.

Around 385,000 of the smallest businesses - those with a rateable value of £6,000 or less - will continue to receive 100% relief from business rates until April 2016. A further 190,000 with properties valued at between £6,001 and £12,000 will benefit from tapering relief.

However, independents told Drapers more could be done. Tim Price and Soly Daneshmand, co-owners of Ju-Ju Boutique in Brighton, said: “Because we’re in zone A (the highest rateable value), none of the discounts apply to us and it’s absolutely crucifying us.

“No one would deny we’re a small business, but it feels like we’re subsidising even smaller businesses and it’s becoming more and more unfair. I would like to see every business that has just one branch made eligible for at least a 50% discount.”

Chris O’Dea, owner of OD’s designer clothing in St Helens, added: “What I want to see is power handed back to local councils. I sit on a board and this is something that is said every month when we talk about rejuvenating the high street. We also think 12 months should be given for free to encourage new business.”

Saskia Lamche, buyer director of Diverse Womenswear in London, added: “As far as independents go, business rates are very high and need to be lowered, but there are other things like parking restrictions as well and I don’t think anything was said about that.”

The Local Government Association has urged the government to give councils greater control over the business rates system, but this was not included in the Autumn Statement.

Osborne said the government would carry out a full review of the system’s structure by early 2016.


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