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Chancellor urged to address the burden of business rates in the final Spring Budget

As you read this, we are anticipating the final Spring Budget on 8 March before the government moves to a single fiscal event.

Westminster’s decision to move to just one annual set of tax and spending commitments is a positive move for those businesses weary of frequent changes of direction which can often cause confusion.

Businesses welcomed the additional expenditure on local and regional transport infrastructure announced at the Autumn Statement in 2016 but the lack of action on up-front taxes and the costs of doing business in the UK was disappointing.

We expect the Budget to be a small one because it is the last of its kind, however we still have a number of asks of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, The Rt Hon Philip Hammond MP.

Northamptonshire Chamber of Commerce supports the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) call for action on delivering real reform to the business rates system in order to support long-term business investment.

Addressing the burden of business rates is essential if companies are to invest in training, recruitment and growth plans – all of which are vital in ensuring continued success.

We need the government to abandon the fiscal neutrality principle in business rates reform – an unacceptable barrier to fundamental reform of the business rates system that is unique to that tax.

We are also calling on the Chancellor to bring forward the switch from Retail Price Index (RPI) to Consumer Price Index (CPI), currently planned for April 2020, to April 2017.

It is argued that CPI is a more accurate measure of inflation as it is less volatile than RPI and reflects the inflation that most people experience.

The Chamber and the wider Accredited Chamber network also call for the removal of all plant and machinery from the valuation of property for business rates purposes and for the government to drop proposals to restrict the ability of the Valuation Tribunal for England to order changes to business rates liabilities.

At a time of uncertainty surrounding the UK’s future relationship with Europe, the government can take decisive action on business rates, and at the same time make the UK an attractive place to do business while maintaining competitiveness with its counterparts on the continent.

This would help address the ‘productivity gap’ and support the success of local firms during the unknown territory of Brexit.

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