Thursday, 5 December 2013

Government announces business rates to be frozen to boost local traders, but also raises pension age, caps welfare spending

The government has unveiled changes to the business rates system in its Autumn Statement today, which it claims will cut taxes, supporting the North West’s small businesses and high streets – and which might mean empty shops will see new use.

Businesses in 232,000 premises in the North West will all see benefits from the government’s actions, and 102,000 premises in the North West will see their business rates bill frozen or falling. Measures include:

  • A two per cent cap on the RPI increase to business rates. This will benefit 174,000 business premises across the North West – the remaining 56,000 properties will pay no rates at all
  • A £1,000 business rates discount – available for two years to shops, pubs and restaurants worth less than £50,000 – will benefit 46,000 properties in the North West
  • Extending the Small Business Rates Relief for another year will provide continued support to 81,000 small businesses – 56,000 of which will pay no business rates at all
The cap on business rates, £1,000 discount for retail properties and extension of the Small Business Rates Relief come alongside other government action to cut the costs of rates for business, including:

  • A reoccupation relief which will provide a 50 per cent business rates discount for 18 months, on retail properties that have been vacant for a year or more
  • Relaxing the rules around the Small Business Rates Relief so that small businesses wishing to grow and take on a second property will be able to receive the relief for a year after expanding 

Businesses and young people in the North West will also benefit from government action to cut employer’s National Insurance Contributions for all under 21s on earnings up to £42,000. This means:

  • Employer National Insurance Contribution bills for 174,000 under 21s in the North West will be wiped out from April 2015
  • 38,000 employers in the North West will benefit
  • £55m worth of savings for North West employers in the first year alone

The North West will also benefit from actions already taken to cut employer National Insurance Contributions in this Parliament:

  • Raising the threshold at which employer National Insurance Contribution becomes payable, lifting 140,000 people in the North West out of employer contributions altogether
  • Introducing the £2,000 Employment Allowance for up to 137,000 businesses in the North West
Although the above might be good news for business, the Autumn Statement also brought a number of changes, not least of them the news that the state pension age is to increase to 68 in the mid-2030s and to 69 in the late 2040s.

Overall welfare spending is to be capped and anyone aged 18 to 21 claiming benefits without basic English or Maths will be required to undertake training from day one or lose their entitlement. People unemployed for more than six months are to be forced to start a traineeship, take work experience or do a community work placement or lose benefits.

From April, a new tax relief is to be introduced for investment in social enterprises and new social impact bonds.

BBC News: Autumn 2013 Statement at a glance summary

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