The Chancellor’s Autumn Statement

I read at the weekend something of the CBI’s wish list of important matters they would like the Chancellor to address in his Autumn Statement, due out as it happens in early Winter at the beginning of December. The CBI pointed out some very useful issues on which they would like to see some action. The article I read highlighted  the issue of reform on Business Rates, a topic close to our hearts here at Harris Lamb. The point from the CBI was for the Chancellor to avoid ‘missing out on new investment from Companies’

The CBI said that the Government should cap the annual inflation linked increase in business rates at 2% and offer 1 year rates holidays for firms moving into vacant town centre retail positions – quite a good stimulus potentially for the retail market but why stop there? What about expanding manufacturing and technology Companies or service sectors; the creative arts world or other export leading Companies who may be expanding?

Business Rates are due to rise again next April by 3.2% and the tax raised from rates is a tremendous earner for the Government but it is also one long overdue for a major re-think and reform. We have blogged before about Business Rates being ripe for some reforms and how money could be raised far more fairly and proportionately from Businesses rather than relying solely on the notional rental value of the buildings they occupy on a given date.

The topic of void rates is also worth mentioning again at this point.  We have blogged many times before on what a patently unfair “tax” this is, and don’t propose to repeat those comments again now.  Any review of business rates must surely also include a much needed review on the only tax we can think of which is based on failure as opposed to success.  Any building which is vacant, and has a current rating assessment, is therefore viewed by the Valuation Office and Local Authority of being capable of beneficial occupation.  However, as landlords do not want to leave buildings empty, and any tenant with an unoccupied legacy building would dearly love to dispose of it immediately, these buildings are not being left empty through choice!

The CBI evidently have also included in their submission that the Government should take action on rising energy costs – I think we can all agree on that. They have also called for a steamlined planning system to allow faster approvals on residential developments

Whilst the CBI and other trade organisations lobby the Chancellor you do wonder whether he, or indeed any other Chancellor whether from the left, right or centre actually listens with any intent on the ideas put forward.  Let’s hope they do.

For advice on Business Rates contact one of the team at Harris Lamb