Autumn Statement introduces discount on business rate bills for smaller retail premises

Available for two years from next year, the discount will apply to premises with rateable values of up to £50,000, including charity shops

Charity shops: rates discount
Charity shops: rates discount

The government will introduce a discount of up to £1,000 on business rate bills for retail premises with rateable values of up to £50,000, including charity shops, for the next two years, according to today’s Autumn Statement.

The aim of the discount, which will be available for 2014/15 and 2015/16, is to support the retail sector as it responds to the challenges high streets are experiencing as they adapt to people’s changing shopping habits, the statement says.

It does not set out how the discount will be calculated, but says the government will publish guidance on how it will be applied.

Charity shops are already entitled to 80 per cent mandatory business rate relief. The Charity Retail Association estimates there are 10,200 charity shops in the UK and the Republic of Ireland, including 8,200 in England.

The Autumn Statement also says that the government will cap the retail prices index increase in business rates to 2 per cent in 2014/15.

A spokesman for the CRA said: "It is great to see the Chancellor announcing new support for the high street, in particular through the £1,000 discount for all retailers – including charity shops – on their business rates bill, as well as the other measures that will help high-street traders.

"Charity shops, small and independent businesses, are part of the solution to improving the high street, and these measures will make that task easier."

A report commissioned by the CRA, published last month and carried out by the think tank Demos, said that the average rateable value of charity shops in England was £20,415.88.

It calculated that the average business rates bill for charity shops, before applying any reliefs, was £9,615.47. With the 80 per cent relief, the figure per shop was £7,692.37.

Rate relief for charity shops was about 5 per cent of all mandatory relief for charity shops, the report said.

The researchers heard from independent retailers who were struggling with business rates that were increasing in line with inflation, without taking into account the "radically changing high-street context".

Jenna Pudelek

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