The Autumn Statement contained several measures to reduce or restrict rates for small businesses. Some of the main changes are as follows:
The increase of business rates due in England and Wales for 2014/15 will now be capped at 2% as opposed to being linked to RPI inflation.
The doubling of the Small Business Rate Relief was also extended until April 2015. This means approximately 360,000 of the smallest businesses will receive 100% relief.
Additional support will be offered to the retail sector through a business rate discount of up to £1,000 in both 2014/15 and 2015/16 for retail properties with a rateable value of up to £50,000. This will include pubs, restaurants, cafes and charity shops.
A 50% discount on business rates for 18 months will also be available for new occupants of previously empty premises. The relief is temporary and will be granted to businesses moving into long-term empty retail premises between 1 April 2014 and 31 March 2016.
With effect from 1 April 2014, legislation will also be introduced to allow business rate bills to be paid over 12 months rather than the current regime of 10 months.
From April 2014, the Government will relax the small business rate relief rules to allow businesses to retain the relief on the first property for one year when taking on an additional property.