FSB: Protect targeted business rates relief to help small firms

SME Publications/ SME XPO 2024

Government must extend the 75 per cent rates relief discount for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses to provide targeted help to hard-pressed small businesses, says the Federation of Small Businesses.

FSB is calling for the relief to continue beyond the April cut off in England, throwing a lifeline to thousands of small firms in our town centres and on our high streets that are vulnerable to increasing costs.

With the Autumn Statement on the horizon and ongoing work on the Non-Domestic Rating Bill this month, Government has the opportunity to make meaningful changes on business rates to help under pressure small businesses.

Alongside extending targeted relief, FSB is calling for an increase in the threshold for Small Business Rates Relief (SBRR) from £12,000 to at least £25,000, removing more than 250,000 small businesses from the rates system. Small firms should not be penalised at the edge of SBRR. Significant support could also be achieved by widening the tapering to cover a higher range of rateable values, creating a more generous ‘small business taper’. 

The Non-Domestic Rating Bill – which is now in the report stage in the House of Lords – should be more ambitious, making it easier and more attractive for businesses to invest and improve by extending or upgrading their property. Current proposals within the Bill will ensure businesses in England making qualifying building improvements will not face higher business rates bills for 12 months. FSB believes this Improvement Relief should be extended to three years.

Federation of Small Businesses National Chair Martin McTague said: “Government needs to bring about a sea change when it comes to business rates. It’s long been known that the system is not fit for purpose and needs an urgent overhaul. Small firms have taken on huge cost burdens in recent times and the Chancellor has an opportunity here to take action on business rates, while enabling small businesses to grow.

“For many small businesses on the high street and town centres, the current relief is a lifeline. In April this is due to end, creating a cliff edge that will be hugely damaging to thousands of businesses. Ensuring the relief is maintained for those businesses that need it most will be key to their survival.

“While the business rates bill continues to work its way through the House of Lords this month, there’s a chance to make a real difference to ambitious small firms keen on investing in their properties, by extending Investment Relief to three years. For the cleaning supplies firm that wants to invest in new manufacturing space to take on bigger contracts, or the pub that has ambitions of serving more punters- this would be hugely beneficial. These small firms should not be stifled by the looming threat of higher business rates bills as a consequence of investment.”

SME Publications/ SME XPO 2024