Support for High Street welcomed as Chancellor cuts business rate bills by a third for small shops

Robin Walker, MP for Worcester, has praised the Chancellor’s action on business rates in today’s Budget, welcoming the much-needed support for small businesses in Worcester.

As part of a £1.5billion pledge to combat the dominance of major online retailers and support local businesses, the Chancellor unveiled £900million in immediate business rate relief for small retailers. This will cut business rate bills by a third for two years from April 2019 for almost half a million small high street shops.

In addition, the Chancellor announced details of a £675million transformation fund for local high streets to help them transform longer-term, including supporting infrastructure and transport access. The Future High Streets Fund will improve transport links, re-develop empty shops as homes and offices and restore and re-use old and historic properties.

Public lavatories are also set to receive 100% business rates relief, helping local authorities keep more town centre toilets operating.

This adds to previous reductions in business rates since Budget 2016 which will save firms over £12 billion over the next five years.

Having campaigned for business rate relief and reform throughout his parliamentary career, Robin welcomed the Chancellor’s announcements in the Budget. As a former member of the Business Select Committee, Robin called for a report into high streets and the future of retail and heard from a number of Worcester business owners about how important it is to ease the burden of rates on small retailers, as well as improving the system of rate revaluations. Robin reiterated his support for further business rate relief in a letter to the Chancellor earlier this month.

The news comes shortly after Worcester was shortlisted for the finals of the Great British High Street Awards, with results set to be announced next month.

Commenting after the Budget, Robin said:

“Having campaigned on this issue for many years I know the news of a business rate cut of a third for the next two years will be warmly welcomed by a great many smaller retailers in Worcester, and will make a real contribution to maintaining the vibrancy and diversity of our High Street – recognised as it has been recently as one of Britain’s best for shoppers and visitors.”

“I also welcome the news that smaller employers will pay half of what they currently pay for apprenticeship training – with the Government covering 95% of training costs. This will not only boost our already record-breaking apprenticeship figures in Worcester, but also ease the burden on small businesses.”

“Although only a small part of the Budget, the rate relief for local authorities on public lavatories will make a real and tangible difference to those who regularly visit the city centre. I am often contacted by constituents who stress the importance of public conveniences – particularly for older people, those less mobile or with children – and this measure will help keep more of our city centre loos open long-term.”

ENDS

Notes to editors

For full details of the Budget, see https://www.gov.uk/government/topical-events/budget-2018

For Robin’s previous statements on business rates and support for the High Street, see http://www.walker4worcester.com/?s=business+rates and http://www.walker4worcester.com/category/campaigns/help-the-high-street/