The Communities Secretary, Eric Pickles, is due to announce a £415m package of infrastructure investment and business rates decreases today. For the purpose of encouraging and supporting Britain’s ailing high streets there is hope these plans will help smaller shops take advantage of the ongoing economic recovery.
There are suggestions that the tax on UK commercial properties may be gotten rid of altogether, while the Autumn Statement plan for a rates discount of £1,000 applied to 300,000 small retailers will also be brought in.
Retailers have called for more action though. They want a larger overhaul of business rates to further help the high streets and those who operate there. The British Retail Consortium have brought in EY, an accountancy firm, to look into an alternative to business rates. They will bring their plans to George Osborne some time next month.
David Cameron set the ball rolling for all this while at the Federation of Small Businesses conference where he talked about the imbalance between shops on the street and those online. He said “I think we’ve got to start addressing this issue, particularly this issue about internet and high-street retailing.” He also talked about the need for longer term reform although showed caution when pointing out the current rates raise £24bn.
Other parts of the package will include £100m for infrastructure in enterprise zones and £15m towards university enterprise zones as well. Eric Pickles has said “…we are backing business and enterprise right across the country, helping town centres and local industries to prosper”.