George Osborne’s Autumn Statement dealt another blow to retailers and small businesses as he overlooked pleas to freeze business rates, despite much lobbying on the issue.
Recouping some of the losses from Starbucks over the next two years, which could amount to £20 million according to the coffee giant’s UK managing director Kris Engskov, should cheer up some smaller retailers hit by rising costs, but it will make no difference to plans for business rates in 2013.
Rates are set to increase a further 2.6 per cent in April 2013 – a move which has been heavily criticised by the British Retail Consortium, which recently reported empty shop rates were at a record high.
On the positive side of things, the small businesses’ business rate relief scheme will be extended for another year until April 2014, but whilst James Lowman, chief executive of the Association of Convenience Shops’ (ACS), said that his organisation “welcomed” the extension, he added that it “will not benefit enough businesses to stimulate the investment needed to revive high streets.”
The statement has again been good news for overseas investors, as corporation tax will be cut under the new plans from 22 to 21 per cent in the hope of attracting investment – a move that the chancellor said will mean the UK has the lowest rate of any major western economy.
Plans for a three pence rise on fuel duty in January have also been scrapped, meaning there has been no rise in duty for two and a half years.
Image: Paul Toeman.