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    BIRA chief expresses concern on ‘downgraded growth forecast’ in Autumn Statement

    (Photo by Ian Forsyth/Getty Images)

    An Independent retails association has welcomed the news that there will be a business rates relief which was announced by the Chancellor, but warned it was concerned on the increased standard multiplier.

    In the Autumn Statement delivered yesterday, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt announced a 12-month extension of business rates relief for the hospitality sector.

    Despite acknowledging the need to phase out temporary support measures, the Chancellor emphasised the importance of continued assistance to businesses in the retail, hospitality, and leisure industries.

    The 75 per cent discount, initially introduced in response to the pandemic, will persist, providing crucial relief for struggling businesses. This discount enables eligible businesses to claim relief of up to £110,000, offering significant financial respite, with an average annual saving of £12,800 for pubs.

    Recognizing the vital role played by pubs and high street shops in communities, Chancellor Hunt announced a £4.3 billion tax cut through the extended relief. Additionally, the small business multiplier will remain frozen for another year, offering further support to smaller enterprises. However, the standard business multiplier, applicable to businesses with a rateable value exceeding £51,000, will see a 6.4 per cent increase.

    The CEO of British Independent Retailers Association Andrew Goodacre expressed both relief and concern for the announcement.

    “We are delighted to see the 75 per cent discount retained and the small business multiplier frozen – it is a lifeline to so many independent retailers. However, it was disappointing to see the standard multiplier increased by almost 7 per cent. There are many independent retailers who will now be paying more rates next year, as well as paying 10 per cent more on labor,” he said.

    In addition to business rates relief, the Chancellor announced a 2 per cent cut in National Insurance from 12 per cent to 10 per cent, effective from January 6, 2024. This tax reduction, amounting to £450 for an employee with an average salary of £35,000, aims to provide financial relief and stimulate economic recovery.

    While welcoming certain measures, Bira expressed concern about the downgraded growth forecast.

    Goodacre added, “We are also concerned by the downgraded growth forecast because retail needs consumers to feel better off and have more confidence in spending on the high street. We are not convinced yesterday’s statement will achieve either growth or consumer confidence.”

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