In today’s Autumn Statement #AS2013 George Osborne announced a package of measures to help retailers on the High Street by extending the rate relief scheme for another year and cap at 2% from next April all business rates. Retailers with a rateable bill of up to £50,000 will receive a rates discount of £1,000 off their bills in 2014-15 and 2015-2016, and will allow businesses to pay rates in 12 monthly instalments. He also announced a new reoccupation relief to encourage use of vacant town centre shops.

John Webber, Head of Rating, at Colliers International:

“The Autumn Statement is the Coalition’s attempt to grab headlines without substance in the hope British business won’t value what the cap actually means. We have been lobbying to highlight the issue of compound interest and whilst we are grateful that Osborne has capped the increase in business rate costs, the underlying problems remain; empty rate charges, the postponement of the 2015 Revaluation and uncertainty for small business as to whether or not they’ll receive on-going rate relief for anything longer than a 12 month window.”

“The current Business Rates system involves bandings, hurdles, caps, which in my view should stay on the race course where punters can speculate their money away. We’re striving for a fair, simple system, one which British and global  business can invest in and build from, not just now but in the long-run, certainly longer than any single Party’s term in office.’

Commenting on the Statement as a whole, Walter Boettcher, Chief Economist at Colliers International said:

“The Autumn Statement is a logical extension of previous austerity budgets with further tweaking and adjustment. The business-friendly tone of several initiatives will no doubt strike a chord with domestic and international business operators, but does not look decisive in terms of bringing about the surge in confidence necessary for a large-scale surge in expansionary business investment. Instead, it looks like a slow burn approach to repositioning the UK economy for long term investment growth.  Hence, a quick fix for the slowly strengthening UK office and industrial leasing markets is not in the offer. Corporate occupiers and property investors will take heart though that the environment is moving their way.”