Government commits to business rates review

By Sophie Witts

- Last updated on GMT

Government commits to business rates review

Related tags Business rates

Small restaurants, pubs and cafes will see a reduction in their business rates bills under plans outlined in the Queen's Speech today (19 December).

All retail businesses with a rateable value of £51,000 or less will see an increase in their business rates discount from 33% to 50% in 2020.

Independent pubs will also see their bills cut by a further £1,000. 

But Robert Hayton, head of UK business rates at real estate adviser Altus Group, warned that the Conservatives' manifesto costings meant that the 2020 discount, amounting to £770m, would be removed in April 2021 and replaced with just a £10m a year discount for the following three years.

He said the process needed to be reformed 'without delay' to insert 'fairness and certainty back in to the heart of the system'.

In 2017 business rates were reassessed for the first time in seven years to bring them in line with property values, but the changes left some operators facing huge rises in their bills.

Under the government’s plans, the next review date has been moved forward to 2021 and rates revaluations will now take place every three years instead of five.

The government has also promised to conduct a wider review of the system.

“Rates have arguably been the single biggest barrier to growth for hospitality and a shake-up of the whole business tax system is overdue,” said Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality.

“This support does need to apply to the whole of hospitality, though, and we will continue to push the government to ensure that the business tax system is fit for purpose in the 21st​ Century.”

Immigration policy

The government has also proposed changes to immigration policy with the introduction of an Australian-style points system that would bring an end to free movement.

This means from 2021 EU citizens arriving in the UK will be subject to the same immigration restrictions as the rest of the world.

“A fair and managed, three-tier system at all salary and skilled levels, hand-in-hand with investment in skills and training, is a must,” said Nicholls.

“This will avoid exacerbating labour shortages, keep the economy at full strength and allow hospitality to continue its work boosting the domestic workforce.”

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