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Autumn Budget 2023 Unveils Comprehensive Support Package for Small Businesses and High Street:

Implications for Offices and Industrial Units

Peter Foley is our resident guru here at CPA, and has been passionately following the shifting world of business rates for many years. With a keen political insight, Peter’s writing reveals how policy change is key to understanding your business rates further, and how this could translate into substantial savings. In his weekly column, Peter also outlines a desired path forward, with changes we’d like to see implemented for a fairer system on the nation's business rat

Navigating the intricacies of business rates has always been a challenging task for businesses, and the recent adjustments in the landscape have added a layer of complexity. The latest rateable valuations, with the aim of generating approximately £25 billion, have been recalibrated to account for the pandemic's impact on trading conditions. This recalibration seeks to ensure that sectors outperforming the average contribute more, while struggling sectors see a reduction in their bills.

The Chancellor's announcement on November 22, 2023, revealed a substantial support package of £4.3 billion over the next five years. The measures are strategically designed to support small businesses and revitalize the high street, acknowledging their indispensable role in the nation's economic fabric.

For the fiscal year 2024/25, significant announcements include the freeze of the small business multiplier at 49.9p, an uprating of the standard multiplier from 51.2p to 54.6p in April, and the extension of the Retail, Hospitality, and Leisure (RHL) Scheme for a fifth year, offering 75% relief to eligible properties, capped at £110,000 per business.

While the RHL Scheme extension is a welcome development, focusing primarily on the retail, hospitality, and leisure sectors, it falls short of addressing the challenges faced by offices and industrial units. These sectors find themselves excluded from the same level of relief, continuing to grapple with the ongoing business rates challenges without a comparable support framework.

Local authorities are expected to utilize their discretionary relief powers to provide RHL relief in line with eligibility criteria. Compensation for the cost of these reliefs will be facilitated through a section 31 grant from the government. Additionally, acknowledging the additional burdens on billing authorities, the government commits to New Burdens funding to cover the extra costs associated with implementing and administering the RHL relief scheme and changes to the NNDR process.

The Non-Domestic Rating Act 2023 introduces several changes through associated regulations. These changes include the automatic linking of annual increases in the small business multiplier and the national non-domestic multiplier to the Consumer Prices Index (CPI) rather than the Retail Prices Index (RPI). Small business multiplier eligibility will be extended to properties below the £51,000 threshold, including vacant, central list, or charity-occupied properties. Furthermore, a 100% relief for eligible low-carbon heat networks will be mandatory from April 1, 2024.

As we look ahead, regulations to implement the Improvement Relief scheme for 2024/25 are expected soon. Local authorities must update their systems, including necessary software changes, to ensure that bills for the 2024-25 tax year accurately reflect the announced adjustments.

While the Autumn Budget offers much-needed relief for many businesses, it's crucial to monitor how these measures will impact diverse sectors. Commercial Property Advisors (CPA) stands ready to provide expert guidance in navigating the evolving business rates landscape. CPA offers a complimentary RICS-regulated survey, providing businesses with the detailed information required for a successful appeal. With a track record of successful appeals across various sectors, CPA operates on a no-win-no-fee basis, ensuring that businesses receive professional support tailored to their unique circumstances. For businesses seeking guidance on business rates or navigating the changing landscape, CPA is a reliable partner offering expertise and support.

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