Business Secretary Vince Cable has announced at the Liberal Democrat party conference this week that, although new business rates relief has not yet been signed off by the Government, he is confident that small business owners could expect movement towards it, once a deal has been agreed with Chancellor George Osborne.
Dr Cable said he had hoped to be able to announce something at the conference that would help small businesses on business rates, because this is a real problem area.
However, the discussions have not quite concluded, he added, but he thinks that there will be something positive in the pipeline when the Chancellor delivers his Autumn Statement.
Dr Cable let the potential policy move slip when he was asked whether local businesses that want to invest in the high street could be given business rate rebates to match any money they put in.
He replied that he had wanted to offer something concrete to small firms on the business rates front but that the final deal has not yet been ironed out with the Chancellor.
Mr Osborne has already committed to a review of business rates by 2017, but given that the tax is such a hot potato politically, it is likely that he will be forced to act before the general election next May.
Business rates raise around £25bn per annum for the Treasury, but firms of all sizes claim that the tax is stifling growth and only last month, 100 companies, including Tesco, Marks & Spencer and General Motors, signed an open letter to tell Mr Osborne that business rates are “no longer fit for purpose for the 21st Century” and that they must be revamped in order to “unleash investment”.