Business rates for small high street retailers in England will be cut by one third over the next two years, chancellor Philip Hammond has announced in his Budget.
The changes to business rates are part of a £1.5bn effort to revitalise the high street, which Mr Hammond said was 'under pressure as never before as Britain adopts online shopping'.
Whitehall will provide £675m of co-funding into a Future High Streets Fund to support councils to transform these areas, which he described as the 'heart of communities'.
The fund will support the funding of a new High Streets Taskforce to provide expertise and hands-on support.
Mr Hammond said: 'The change that high streets face is irreversible.
'Many small retail businesses are struggling to cope with high costs of business rates.'
Rateable values had been expected to change to reflect changes in rental values in April 2021.
But Mr Hammond called for immediate change, announcing that all retailers in England with rateable values of up to £51,000 would benefit from cuts of around 30%, which could lead to annual savings of up to £8,000 for 90% of independent shops, pubs, restaurants and cafés.
The British Retail Consortium welcomed the 'temporary support being given to small businesses' but warned these measures alone would not be enough for high streets to recover.
Fears that the rate relief would come out of local government’s share of business rates were today dismissed by Smith Square.
Local Government Association chairman Lord Porter told Transport Network's sister publication The MJ: ‘If it does [come out of local government’s cut of business rates] it’s a major departure from what we’ve agreed in the past.’