What the Queen's speech means for UK retailers...
Currently, while 5% of UK’s economy is accounted for by the retail industry, regardless of profit this sector is saddled with 25% of business rates and 10% of all business taxes. Many see this as unsustainable, and there have been clear and repeated calls from many quarters to reform the system in order to revitalise the sector, so this news has been widely welcomed.
The rates generate more than £31bn annually for the government so any future large-scale changes will doubtless need to undergo careful scrutiny, however with an eye on the struggling high street, this announcement sees retailers who have had their rateable value calculated at under £51,000 eligible for an increase in discount from 30% to 50% during the coming financial year, bringing a much-needed reprieve for many.
While this may only offer short-term relief for some businesses, many retailers will be pleased with the government’s actions and be eagerly looking ahead to the much-touted reforms in the coming Budget, with the mooted shift for business rates revaluations from a five to a three-year cycle and the promise of legislation that brings forward the next one to 2021.