Autumn Statement: reaction from the retail sector
The retail sector has welcomed the announcement by the Chancellor in his Autumn Statement that there will be a full review of the structure of the business rates system alongside the extension of the 2% cap on business rate increases for next year.
Further help on rates announced included the extension of small business rates relief for another year and the roll over for another year of the discount for retailers with properties of less than £50,000 rateable value. This will rise to £1500 next year.
British Retail Consortium director general Helen Dickinson said: “We very much welcome the commitment to undertake a comprehensive review of the business rates system. We want a system that brings investment and jobs to the high street without punishing retailers who trade online. The retail industry is the largest rates payer, contributing over a quarter of the total rates tax take.
“We look forward to playing a full part in the discussions that will take place with Government on the reform of the system.”
John Rogers, Sainsbury’s chief financial officer and chair of the BRC industry-wide group looking at the issue of business rates, added: "A clear consensus has emerged across businesses of all sizes and from all sectors - our current outdated system of business rates isn’t just a retail problem, but a business problem. We will be fully engaging with the review to ensure we get a new system which is fit for purpose in the 21st century.”
Additionally, the Autumn Statement also included announcements on voluntary regulation and Employers’ National Insurance Contributions for Young Apprentices.
Commenting on both voluntary schemes and employers NICs, Dickinson said: “We are delighted that the Chancellor recognises that voluntary schemes have room for improvement and agrees with our proposals to take a more careful approach so that customers and companies all benefit from well thought-out and properly-costed schemes.
“The retail industry employs an estimated 100,000 apprentices and any support for increasing the number of young people able to get a head start working in our world-beating industry is to be warmly welcomed.
“The BRC congratulates the Chancellor on his recognition that apprenticeships are a great way to get young people into work. By eliminating employers NI contributions for young apprentices the Chancellor has made it much easier for businesses to take on an apprentice and give them the skills they'll need to succeed.”
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