Industry bodies including the British Retail Consortium and Confederation of British Industry have said the 2015 Queen’s Speech is likely to find support among retailers and used the opportunity to renew calls for a review of business rates.
Today (May 27) the first all-Conservative government since 1996 set out its plans to block any rises in income tax, VAT and national insurance before 2020. It also said that those working under 30 hours per week on the minimum wage will not pay income tax.
Other key pledges included plans for ministers to report annually on job creation and a reconfirmation of a new enterprise bill designed reduce regulation on small businesses.
A British Retail Consortium spokeswoman, said:
“In today’s Queen’s Speech the government has laid out a wide ranging agenda much of which will find support among retailers. From ensuring economic recovery and legislating against further VAT rises, to committing to increase apprenticeships and reforming the EU, there is a lot that could potentially benefit our industry. The devil, of course, will be in the detail of the measures and bills when they are published. Any measures to support the economy that don’t include far reaching reform of business rates, for example, would be an opportunity lost. This speech is a strong statement of the government’s pro-business, pro-growth intent and a sign of positive things to come in this next session of parliament.”
Katja Hall, Confederation of British Industry deputy director-general, said:
“This is a jam-packed Queen’s Speech, with a strong focus on stepping up a gear on the economic recovery - locking in growth, creating jobs and boosting investment right across the country. Businesses need to see it commit to a genuinely achievable reform agenda, making the UK and the EU more competitive. Pruning unnecessary red tape from Westminster and Brussels will give firms bursting with potential – especially small and medium-sized ones – the space to grow and thrive. We want to see more details on how the Small Business Conciliation Service will work in practice. We believe customers and suppliers should deal directly to reach agreement wherever possible.”
Melanie Leech, chief executive of the British Property Federation, said: “The current business rates system is out-of-touch and badly needs reform if we are to create an environment in which businesses can flourish and are able to invest in our towns and cities.
“While it is good to see that the appeals system will be scrutinised [as part of the enterprise bill], this should not be seen as a substitute for fundamental reform that makes business rates more responsive to the wider economy. A fairer, more flexible system will in itself reduce appeals as bills return to a level that businesses across the country are able to pay.”
More to follow…