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Chancellor George Osborne said today that all retailers on the High Street with a rateable bill of up to £50,000 in England will receive a discount on business rates worth £1,000 off their bills in 2014-15 and 2015-2016 and as expected he also confirmed that the government would also extend the rate relief scheme for another year and cap the RPI increases on all business rated at 2% from next April 2014.

In his statement he also confirmed the following:-

-           50% discount from business rates for new occupants of previously empty retail premises for 18 months.

-           The government will legislate to allow business rates bills to be spread over 12 months rather than 10 months as currently, with effect from 1 April 2014, to help with cash flow and affordability.

-           The government will also discuss with business options for longer-term administrative reform of business rates post-2017.

It said: "The government will publish a discussion paper in spring 2014 setting out the advantages and disadvantages of different options for longer-term reforms to business rates administration which maintain the aggregate tax yield."

The government will also consult on reforms to the business rates appeals process and will commit to clear 95% of the September 2013 backlog of appeals before July 2015.

Some commentators have responded positively to the Chancellors proposals although many confirm that the proposals fall somewhat short of what is needed following the government such as a business rates freeze as well as the government continuing to ignore calls to reintroduce the 2015 revaluation (now delayed to 2017). A revaluation would see rateable values become more representative of the local rental market rather than continuing to be based upon April 2008 levels.

Martin Hughes

06 December 2013