On-trade gives cautious welcome to business rates changes

Location: England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales
Other: Business

In addition to freezing alcohol duty across the board, Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond unveiled some welcome changes to business rates today.

These include:

  • A move from Retail Price Index (RPI) to (the lower) Consumer Price Index (CPI) when calculating bills, something which the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) estimates will save businesses £100m over four years.
  • Business rates revaluations taking place every three years instead of five, in an attempt to avoid big hikes or falls.
  • An extension of the £1,000 rate relief policy for an additional year. Targeted specifically at small pubs, the ALMR estimates the move could save the industry £20m.

‘This shows that the Government has listened to the concerns of the sector, the concerns of ALMR members, and acted to support vital hospitality businesses at a time of economic and political instability,’ said ALMR chief executive Kate Nicholls.

The trade reaction was less sanguine, however.

‘Business rates are so punitive now, and the damage has already been done,’ commented Martin Lam, one-time owner of Ransome’s Dock and now a consultant. ‘These changes are about as good as saying that we’ll all have electric cars in 2025. It’s no use to anyone looking to decide whether to stay in business now.’

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