The Chancellor announced a number of measures to help many failing high streets up and down the country, as they face a real threat to their existence as footfall continues to be impacted. The growing use of online shopping has caused many large retailers to close down or reduce the number of stores they run, especially in smaller towns and villages across the country.
One of the measures introduced by the Chancellor, has been designed to help provide new rates relief for smaller retailers based in England. These small retailers are at the heart of many high streets and will grow ever more important as the big retailers focus on major city developments and online portals. From April 2019, small retailers occupying shop premises in England with rateable values under £51,000, should benefit from a cut of one-third in their business rates bills for 2 years. However, no reliefs for larger retailers were announced.
The Chancellor commented in his Budget speech that this will result in ‘an annual saving of up to £8,000 for up to 90% of all independent shops, pubs, restaurants and cafes’. This change will run until the next rates revaluation in 2021 when rateable values will be adjusted to reflect changes in rental values.
It was also announced that the Government will provide £675m of co-funding to be spent by councils on improvements to: transport links, the redevelopment of under-used and unused retail space into residential and office accommodation, and the repurposing of building with a historical value.