Budget 2017: Can pubs toast latest changes to business rates?
The measures will see all pubs with a rateable value of less than £100,000 receive a £1,000 discount on their 2017 bill. The move is estimated to cover 90% of pubs in England.
The sector-specific relief was welcomed by landlords as a good move but many called for changes to the business rates system entirely. Critics also swiftly highlighted that the rates decrease was for one year only, with many pubs still facing huge future potential rises in their business rates and that the figure would be dwarfed by the rises in taxes on alcohol and other rising costs for much of the leisure industry.
Hammond made further business rates concessions as what he called a ‘reaction to concerns raised by businesses’. Local authorities are to receive a £300m fund to deliver discretionary relief to help ease the burden on individual hard cases. Furthermore, any business coming out of Small Business Rate Relief will benefit from an additional cap, that will mean their rates will not increase by more than £50 a month.
The anticipated major consultation on business rates seems to be no further forward. Our view is that these measures are baby steps in the long walk to much needed long term root and branch reform, which many consider necessary for the industry.