Business leaders call on Sajid Javid to take radical action to save the High Street

Sajid Javid
Sajid Javid
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Small business leaders today call on Sajid Javid to bring forward radical interventions to address an unprecedented long-term slump in small business confidence.

The chancellor is set to publish the 2019 Autumn Budget on November 6 and the Federation of Small Business (FSB) is calling for a major reduction in business rates bills for small firms, as thousands struggle to stay afloat amid spiralling operating costs.

Hull City Centre

Hull City Centre

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The FSB recommends that the Retail Discount – which allows small retailers with rateable values of up to £51,000 to claim a 33 per cent discount on their rates bills – be increased to at least 50 per cent, made permanent and extended to small firms operating in other sectors, including manufacturing.

It is also calling for the threshold for Small Business Rates Relief to be increased from £12,000 to at least £30,000.

The threshold has remained largely static in recent years, despite the Rateable Values that determine rates bills surging in many parts of the country, particularly on high streets in large towns and cities.

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The tax set to generate £25 billion for the Government in the current financial year, up more than £200 million compared to last year.

Rates are causing anguish for retailers

Rates are causing anguish for retailers

FSB National Chairman Mike Cherry said: “Small businesses have been left hamstrung by uncertainty for the past three years. We need to see the Chancellor step-up to the mark next month with measures that will reinject optimism into the small business community and enable growth. Otherwise, we’re in for a very bleak winter.

“Business rates reform must be a priority. This unfair, regressive tax – which hits firms before they’ve made their first pound in turnover, let alone profit – continues to threaten the futures of small firms all over the country. We’ve secured important business rates mitigations in the past, but now is the time for a significant reduction in small business bills.

Fundamentally, the business rates tax serves as a disincentive to invest. You spend money on bettering your property – by installing solar panels, or improving workplaces, for example – and the next thing you know your rates bill has shot up.”

The FSB also recommends that the £3,000 discount on national insurance bills available to small firms through the Employment Allowance be increased each time a new member of staff is taken on.