Budget announcements ‘offer small businesses a lifeline’

In Industry Comment, Industry News On

The Chancellor has just delivered his Budget speech, where many business owners awaited news relating to business rates – an area which greatly affects retailers with bricks and mortar stores.

Wilkins Kennedy partner and head of retail and wholesale Phil Mullis commented: “Business rates have been a sore point for a long time. The Chancellor has admitted that there is no appetite to abolish business rates, particularly when they make around £25bn for the Treasury every year. However, the Chancellor did say there is scope to review the revaluation process and consult on this before the next revaluation is due.  Then again, saying is one thing, doing is another.

“It was disappointing to see that there was absolutely no reference to how the Government plans to bring business rates in line with the discrepancy between those charged to bricks and mortar retailers and those to online. This is a major area in need of addressing, but first, there needs to be an urgent overhaul throughout.”

Close Brothers Retail Finance managing director Alex Marsh looked at what the Budget might mean for SME retailers. “Today’s announcement by the Chancellor that small businesses facing rate hikes will receive direct relief from the government in the form of an extra cap, as well as discretionary relief through their local authority, is a step towards supporting small retailers, many of whom have serious concerns as they struggle to factor in the rate rises,” he said. “With more than a quarter of all retail SMEs in the UK citing high business rates as a one of their biggest challenges in competing with larger retailers – a figure which jumps to 38% among London-based retail SMEs – SMEs need to use all of the tools at their disposal to offset the cost of increases.

“On top of business rate increases, inflation is creeping back up and is adding a further challenge for retailers. Using customer data to increase loyalty and better tailor products and services to consumer needs has never been so critical and UK retailers must respond to this if they want to survive, let alone thrive.”

Epos Now chief executive Jacyn Heavens believes that provisions for smaller businesses are a key element of the terms announced. “Today’s budget provides further evidence that small businesses remain the lifeblood of the UK economy,” he said. “For many businesses, the three stages of tax relief outlined by Philip Hammond will act as a lifeline for many and the discount on bill rates for 90% of UK pubs is essential to safeguard the future of pubs across the country.

“While these measures will provide some relief to the small business community, it is important that the government continues to focus on these businesses in favour of large corporations. To support this feeling, our research found that 92% of small businesses feel that the government favours larger enterprises over SMEs.

“Small businesses’ entrepreneurial ideas and willingness to embrace innovation help fuel dynamic growth, which is why it’s so important that government continues to listens to their concerns and give them a chance to succeed.”

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