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Budget 2017: Small firms welcome 'business-friendly Budget' for East Anglia

PUBLISHED: 16:45 22 November 2017 | UPDATED: 16:45 22 November 2017

Small business groups have welcomed changes to business rates legislation announced in the 2017 Autumn Budget. Picture: YakobchukOlena/Getty Images/iStockphoto

Small business groups have welcomed changes to business rates legislation announced in the 2017 Autumn Budget. Picture: YakobchukOlena/Getty Images/iStockphoto

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East Anglia's small firms have welcomed a "business-friendly Budget" which has eased their tax burden in a challenging trading climate.

While costs are being squeezed in the payroll department with a 4.4pc rise in the National Living Wage being implemented from April, the chancellor announced several mitigating measures aiming to increase the profitability of smaller companies.

The planned switch from the Retail Prices Index to the Consumer Price Index for the annual uprating of business rates has been brought forward by two years, to April 2018 – a move estimated to be worth £2.3bn to businesses during the next five years.

Revaluation periods will be shortened from five years to three years in order to reduce the size of changes in valuations.

And Philip Hammond also outlined steps to end the so-called “staircase tax”, which levies extra tax on firms if they operate on different floors in a mixed-use building

“We will change the law to ensure that where a business has been impacted by the Supreme Court ruling it can have its original bill reinstated if it chooses, and backdated,” he said.

Salena Dawson, chairman of the East Anglia branch of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), said:“Overall, this is a business-friendly Budget.

“The chancellor’s vision for an inclusive economy includes a set of measures that will boost confidence across the small business community here in East Anglia as they face extremely challenging trading conditions.

“FSB presented a series of reforms to the chancellor to make the business rates system fit for the future, and we are delighted to see many taken on board to improve a tax that so badly undermines economic growth. We are particularly proud to see the elimination of the staircase tax, a victory that FSB has campaigned hard to secure over the last few months.

“The economic outlook remains extremely troubled, with high costs of doing business and inflationary pressures hitting confidence and deteriorating productivity and growth. New public sector headline investment will help, to scale-up the British Business Bank by two thirds as well as in research and development, local infrastructure, SME house-building, broadband and training.”

Nova Fairbank, public affairs manager for Norfolk Chamber of Commerce, said: “The Norfolk business community will welcome the much-needed changes to the broken business rates system. A change from RPI to CPI as of April 2018 is something the Norfolk Chamber has campaigned long and hard for and will make a huge difference to businesses in our region. Similarly, the shortening of re-evaluation period to three years will also be greatly welcomed.

“Whilst more remains to be done to reduce the impact of business rates on investment and growth, the chancellor’s decisions will lessen the impact of rate rises on hard-pressed firms in many parts of Norfolk. The chamber network campaigned hard for a reduction in the relentless rises of this iniquitous tax, and all will be pleased that the chancellor has listened and reduced the burden.”

Mr Hammond also said he wanted to “support the thousands of small pubs that are at the heart of so many of our communities”, by extending the £1,000 business rates discount for pubs with a rateable value of less than £100,000 for one more year, to March 2019.

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