Philip Hammond allocated £435m to help businesses facing hikes in business rates today – but the announcement garnered a mixed response.
The Chancellor said local authorities will be able to access a £300m discretionary relief fund to help small businesses worst affected by rate increases.
Meanwhile for firms losing small business rate relief he capped bill increases at £50 per month.
Carl D’Ammassa, group managing director, business finance at Aldermore, and Charlotte Rutter, head of marketing at TFC Homeloans, both said the announcement was good news.
D’Ammassa said: “For many of our small and medium-sized business clients, the current economic uncertainty has been exacerbated by the thorny issue of business rates.
“With this in mind, we welcome the government’s announcement of £435m in further support for businesses facing significant increases in bills from the English business rates system. This will go some way to allaying the anxieties of those most impacted.”
Rutter said: “By softening the blow for small businesses which would have been battered by the revaluation of business rates this year, Hammond has saved many from going under.
“That would have been no good for the economy so this pragmatic thinking and the £50 a month cap should be welcomed.
“It will be interesting to see which local authorities will benefit most from the ‘discretionary relief fund’, but the bigger picture is that this is a sensible move to keep Britain’s nation of shopkeepers in business.”
There will be a future consultation on the revaluation process will take place.
James Souter, partner at law firm Charles Russell Speechlys and Karen Barrett, founder and chief executive of technology platform Unbiased, both picked holes in the announcement.
Souter said: “Today’s Budget provided little comfort for the property industry when it comes to the forthcoming revaluation of business rates due to take effect on 1 April.
“Looking at the detail, the Chancellor’s overall “cuts” actually amount to less than 2% of the total revenue from Business Rates which will do little to alleviate the pressures on Britain’s businesses.”
Barrett said: “It is good that the Chancellor has listened to the concerns of small businesses regarding the increases in business rates.
“He announced £435m set aside for firms affected by these increases, including a £300m ‘hardship fund’ for those worst affected, and a pledge that any business losing the existing relief would not see an increase of more than £50 per month.
“Furthermore, pubs with a rateable value of less than £100,000 will receive a £1,000 discount on their rates.
“Despite these measures, small businesses would be wise to take financial advice on their future cash flows now ‘while the sun is shining’, as such measures are unlikely to be permanent ones.”