Jonathan Werran 03 December 2014

Autumn Statement: Property experts hail business rates review

Property experts have hailed the chancellor for his pledge to hold a structural review of business rates in today’s Autumn Statement.

Liz Peace, chief executive of the British Property Federation said the business rates system needed to change ‘for the sake of business competitiveness and Government efficiency’.

‘We need a system that is more responsive, both to changes in the economy and to the relative position different businesses find themselves in,’ Ms Peace added.

She called for a ‘root and branch’ review that would deliver a system fit for the 21st century.

'Basing a property tax on nine-year-old valuations is simply unfair and inefficient, and other countries have shown that with the use of technology you can design a far more responsive system,’ Ms Peace said.

The commitment to engage with business groups to review the charges was made amid a series of measures directed at small firms.

Mr Osborne pledged to double small business rate relief, a measure which benefits half a million firms and fully exempts around a third of a million, for a further year.

The chancellor also announced he would continue to cap inflation-linked increases to business rates to 2%, but not to switch to the lower CPI inflation measure.

And with a nod to Small Business Saturday, which takes place this weekend, he further announced a 50% increase on the rates discount that was introduced last year for high street shops, pubs and café – increasing the help to £1,500 next year.

The chancellor also confirmed agreement had been reached with the Welsh Government on the full devolution of business rates.

‘This is a great opportunity to grow the Welsh economy,’ Mr Osborne told MPs.

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