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Budget: ACS cautiously welcomes rates changes
Published:  22 November, 2017

The ACS has welcomed the introduction of more frequent business rates revaluations announced in today’s Autumn Budget, but only if this doesn’t place more burdens on retailers to assess and relay information on their properties to the Government.

ACS chairman James Lowman said the introduction of more frequent revaluation must be delivered hand in hand with a simplification of the business rates system, where possible removing the smallest business from the burden of rates.

“The move from RPI to CPI for business rates indexation will reduce rates bills for local shops. However, the Government needs to ensure that existing reliefs are getting through to local shops that need it - currently 81 councils still haven’t set up schemes to distribute discretionary rate relief despite this being announced and funded in the March 2017 budget.

“We look forward to the Government’s position paper on tax in the digital age and will push the government to ensure the taxation burden is evenly distributed between traditional bricks and mortar high street retailers and online retailers.”

On the announcement of a 4.4% increase in the National Living Wage rates to £7.83, Lowman said this meant retailers would have to make tough choices in order to maintain staffing levels by delaying investment, reducing staff hours or reducing the number of people employed in their stores.

He was also not impressed with the continuation of the Tobacco Duty Escalator: “Every time the Chancellor increases tobacco duties he drives more consumers to the illicit market and away from local shops. Last year we saw lost tobacco tax revenue to the exchequer increase by £100million, urgent action is need to provide HMRC and Trading standards officers with more funding and powers to tackle the illicit tobacco market.”

But there was better news in the form of a freeze on alcohol duty: “The Alcohol duty freeze will be welcomed by local shops across the country,” said Lowman. “We are also pleased the Chancellor has heeded our advice to delay future alcohol duty changes until 1st February each year, so retailers are not burdened with changes prices during the busy Christmas period.”