Gifts Today magazine

What effect will rate review have on your small business?

The Business Rates system is to be reviewed and reformed - a development that the British Independent Retailers Association (bira) has fought for since 2011.

Announced in the Autumn Statement, the review will be complete by the time of the 2016 Budget, which means that it must get underway immediately.

An extension of small business rate relief and a 50 per cent increase in the smaller property discount were both welcomed, but as CEO Alan Hawkins commented: ‘The relief, discount and review are all evidence that the government knows there is a real problem to be solved. We will contribute strongly to the process of solving it.’

Questions still remain about exactly how radical any outcome might be, but bira believes that engaging with the project is of vital importance to small businesses across the country.

The association was disappointed that rates will increase by 2 per cent in April as per the continued cap, as this still represents an increase, when it had argued for a freeze.

bira put forward an outline of a reform package in its June submission to a consultation on the administration of the tax. It argued that as the great majority of small operations pay a small proportion of the tax and that the many reliefs available show that the government knows there is a problem in this area, it should bite the bullet and simply exempt 80 per cent of small premises from paying rates, enabling local officers to revalue larger premises more frequently. The association is involved in new research to fully expose the disadvantages faced by high street operators.

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