Retail Businesses & Premises Get Boost

5th April 2019 by

Whilst the 'Brexit' issue continues for a little longer and whatever the outcome may be, history will show that 'Brexit' only served to divide those that 'Do' and those that 'Don't .. 

There were further Jacob Rees Mogg style reasons on Monday to be optimistic about thriving as a small to medium enterprise business within our wonderful United Kingdom. Not least, were the plentiful and positive changes for our high street and general retail sector, which all swung into action on the 1st of April to help deal with our ailing shops, town centre's, and none hub or web based businesses. 

From April 2019 small retailers will benefit from a business rates discount, cutting their bills by a third for 2 years. The discount will be available to occupied retail properties with a rateable value below £51,000. Up to 90% of all retail properties will benefit, subject to state aid limits.

This represents a maximum saving of around £8000 per property per year. A retailer with an annul bill of £16,203 in 2019/20 (based on a rateable value of £33,000) will save £5401 per year. In total the relief is worth almost £900 Million to our UK retailers. Claim it or lose it! 

The relief will be available to a wide range of retail properties including, but not exclusively or limited to shops, restaurants, pubs and hairdressers. 

To ensure that the maximum possible support can be provided to those retailers that most need it, certain services - such as professional services, estate agents, accountant offices, etc will not be eligible. Full guidance as to what sort of businesses based on the high street will qualify, is available from the Government website. 

While the business rates discount will provide upfront support to the high street, the government is taking long-term action to help high streets and town centre's evolve and keep up with changing consumer behaviour so that they can remain at the heart of local communities. To support the transformation, central government will establish a future high streets fund, being accessible at local level. This £675 Million fund will invest in improvements to town centre infrastructure, including increasing better access to high streets, reduced congestion, support redevelopment around high streets and enable residential housing and new work spaces to be created 'Taunton Deane BC' take note, 'a la' Firepool Lock, and the shelved pedestrianisation plan please!

Planning reforms, mean that the government will consult on modernisation of local planning issues and rules to ensure that they support and help any transformation of the high street. 2 consultations will be published, to include - supporting conversion of commercial properties into homes or offices, and the implementation of new mixed-use developments and business models that could help form the vibrant high street's of the future. The government also vowed to support local administrations, making the use of other planning tools more effective. In addition to the consultations, Whitehall will trial a register of empty commercial properties to help prospective retailers find empty premises easier and help local stakeholders tackle fragmented ownership across our high streets. 

A High Street Task Force will support and provide hands-on assistance to local areas to develop innovative strategies to help high streets evolve, connect local areas to relevant experts and share nationwide best practice. After all, we would all love the success story that is Altrincham in Cheshire 

Funds will support the regeneration of heritage high streets, helping Historic England restore buildings that make our shopping streets special destinations that people want to visit. The government is taking further action to strengthen vital community assets also, to include 100% rate relief on public toilets (circa 3500 facilities, mainly adopted by parish or village councils at their own cost) thus taking them out of business rates all together. The £1500 business rates discount on office spaces use by the local press will carry on into 2019/20, and continue to help maintain a healthy and vibrant local newspaper service be it online or in print. Whether this will be extended to, and include local radio such as Tone FM's premises remains to be seen, but Baker Payne have the opinion that they are one in the same, so it definitely should. 

All measures will be applicable in England, and funding will be provided to devolved administrations in the usual way to ensure they can introduce similar schemes and discounts if they wish. 

It's not all doom and gloom, but then it probably never was. Our most recent set of GDP results outperformed even Germany, and that is despite the 'B' word.

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