Added on: 28th October, 2018 by O1
Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, has bowed to BID pressure with the announcement of a significant reduction in Business Rates for 'retailers' in his Autumn statement. Orpington 1st will continue to press for wholesale reform of the Business Rates system.
There was some good news for some businesses this afternoon as Philip Hammond put UK high streets first in his budget statement. The announcement of a £1.5bn package follows persistent lobbying from Business Improvement Districts across the country, including Orpington 1st.
The relief stands to benefit around half of Orpington town centre businesses, applying to those with properties with a rateable value of £51,000 or less (businesses whose premises have a rateable value of £12,000 or less already receive 100% relief), but excludes 'professional services' and some 'leisure' businesses.
Rates for eligible businesses will be cut by a third for the next two years until the revaluation in 2021. A business in a premises with the median rateable value for Orpington town centre and a business rates bill of £10.3k stands to benefit by £3.4k. A business paying £23.6k in Business Rates will save £7.8k.
Although welcome, the rates reduction offers short term relief and Orpington 1st, in partnership with BID colleagues across the country, will continue to push for whole sale reform of what is an unfair and antiquated tax.
Mr Hammond also revealed plans to introduce a UK Digital Services Tax paid only by profitable firms that have at least £500m a year in global revenues. There will be a consultation first before the tax comes into effect in April 2020. The tax is expected to raise more than £400m a year.
The government's plans to ease up planning law to allow more homes to be built in high streets should be met with caution. For high streets to thrive they need a balance of tenants and previous reforms which have relaxed planning law (permitted development) have had unintended consequences. The encroachment of residential spaces into town centres should not be solely at the cost of commercial spaces which are fundamental to employment and prosperity creation.
Planning policy needs to be viewed holistically and the BID will continue to work with the local authority to develop a plan for Orpington town centre which considers all relevant factors and informs licencing and planning issues.
Orpington 1st will also look at the detail of the Future High Streets fund and work with LBB to bid for funds as appropriate.
The BID represented Orpington at an All Party Parliamentary meeting on Business Rates earlier this month