Small firms fear business rate reforms won’t help them

According to recent research, only 14 per cent of owner-managed businesses believe that the reforms to business rates will help to make their firm more competitive.

Former Chancellor George Osborne announced plans to reform business rates in his March Budget, which will mean that from April 2017 businesses whose properties have a rateable value of up to £12,000 will not have to pay business rates at all, a rise from £6,000 previously.

In addition, properties with a rateable value of between £12,000 and £15,000 will receive tapered relief.

Despite this, 40 per cent of the business owners polled said they will not qualify for the reforms, and will therefore be excluded from any cost savings intended by the measure.

One of the authors of the report said that while it was encouraging to see the Chancellor supporting small businesses by permanently doubling rate relief, he does not think the reforms would benefit owner-managed businesses as much as they might have hoped.

As he commented, these businesses are Britain’s independent high-street retailers, family businesses and shopkeepers and they need to keep up-to-date with the further reforms scheduled for 2020.

In addition, they should know that the revaluation process will be changing frequency to every five years and that the Consumer Prices Index (CPI) rather than the Retail Price Index (RPI) will be used to measure inflation.

He stressed that the owner/managers of small firms need to stay informed about measures that may affect business rates and plan ahead to ensure that their business bottom line is not negatively affected.

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