Autumn Budget 2021: Business rates shake-up to create a 'stronger high street'

The Chancellor unveiled a shake-up of business rates in the Budget designed to create a ‘stronger high street’ which has been battered by the pandemic and online spending.

Wednesday, 27th October 2021, 3:14 pm

Rishi Sunak announced a 50 per cent discount for retail, hospitality and leisure firms next year of up to a maximum of £100,000, for a year.

With Small Business Rates Relief, he said it meant more than 90 per cent of companies in the sector would receive at least 50 per cent off their business rate bills in 2022-23.

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Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, holds his ministerial 'Red Box' outside 11 Downing Street, London, before heading to the House of Commons to deliver his Budget. Photo: Victoria Jones/PA Wire

Speaking in the Commons, he also unveiled ‘investment relief’ for firms buying green technologies and a ‘property improvement relief’ covering refurbishments, such as companies expanding factories or hotels adding rooms.

He also said revaluations would take place more frequently, every three years from 2023.

He added: “Reform of business rates will make the system fairer, more responsive and more supportive of investment.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer and shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves during a visit to the Outokumpu steelmill in Sheffield. Photo: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

“The proposals set out will collectively reduce the burden of business rates in England by over £7 billion over the next five years,” and it meant “the biggest single-year tax cut for 30 years.”

He also mocked Labour’s ‘uncosted’ plan to scrap business rates and tax tech giants.

But Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves said high streets were the ‘lifeblood’ of communities and business rates were ‘punitive’ and ‘unfair’ and criticised government for ‘watering down’ plans to tax online giants.

She claimed the ‘highest sustained tax increase in peace time’ loaded the burden on working people - in the form of increases in National Insurance and council tax - but not tech giants, property speculators and bankers.

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