Autumn budget aims to help the high street
In his autumn budget statement, Chancellor Philip Hammond has announced plans to help re-invigorate the UK’s high streets by cutting business rates for small retail businesses by a third for two years from April 2019.
In addition, local high streets will benefit from £675 million to improve transport links, re-develop empty shops as homes and offices, and restore and re-use old and historic properties.
Commenting on the announcement, Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, said the Government had missed a much-needed opportunity to help the retail industry.
She added: “If the government is to truly back business, it must engage in more extensive business rates reform to help all retailers and their employees through this period of transformation.”
The Chancellor also announced that there will be a 2% digital services tax on large online firms. From April 2020, large social media platforms, search engines and online marketplaces will pay a 2% tax on the revenues they earn which are linked to UK users.
In a comment from KPMG, Paul Martin, head of retail at the firm, said: “It is the talk of the digital services tax from April 2020 that holds the greatest potential to rewrite how the retail game is played. Online market places have often been able to rise above the problems faced by traditional legacy players or independents. Retailers will naturally be keen to have sight of greater detail on this, meanwhile consumers may question how such a tax won’t result increased pricing for them.”
In other changes affecting retail sector, Hammond said large businesses will be able to invest up to 25% of their apprenticeship levy from April to support apprentices in their supply chain. Under the plans, some employers will pay half of the 10% they currently pay for apprenticeship training with the government paying the remaining 95%.
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