BRC decries lack of budget action on business rates
"Economic growth is the key to deficit reduction. This was the Chancellor's opportunity to maximise retailers' contribution to re-establishing growth by keeping more money in customers' pockets and leaving retailers with more money they can invest.
"He's done well for hard-pressed households but could have done more to help retail businesses to help him deliver jobs and growth.
"Moves on the income tax threshold and fuel duty are great for consumers' confidence and ability to spend, which will help retailers and the wider economy. But, pressing on with a third-successive substantial business rates rise is very disappointing. Freezing rates would have made a real difference to our troubled high streets and the communities that rely on them.
"It's now even more important that the Government delivers quickly on its existing commitment to reassess the formula for determining future years' rates increases."
Income tax "Accelerating progress towards the target £10,000 personal allowance is something we suggested as a way of easing the pressure on household budgets, giving customers the means to spend and increasing confidence in the wider economy.
"Targeting lower income households is right because they spend a greater proportion of their incomes and are struggling most."
Fuel Duty "Cancelling the duty rise planned for September is good for consumers and businesses.
"At a time when fuel prices are rising rapidly again it makes economic sense for the Chancellor to scrap the increase. It will ease the pressure on household budgets and help retailers contain their transport costs.
"We're already paying the highest fuel taxes in the EU and rising forecourt prices are boosting the Government's tax-take from VAT. The Government should go further by scrapping above-inflation fuel duty increases for the rest of this Parliament."
Business Rates "It's very disappointing that the Chancellor has done nothing to halt next month's business rates increase which will add another £175 million to the half a billion pounds of rates rises that retailers have had to cope with over the last two years.
"One in nine high street shops is currently empty. An opportunity has been missed to make a difference to our troubled high streets and the communities that rely on them.
"It's now even more important that the Government delivers tangible action on its existing promise to review the formula for setting rates in future."
Climate Change Levy "Exempting some industrial sectors from the Climate Change Levy could increase energy bills for lower-energy sectors such as retail. It's important that assisting one sector doesn't lead to bigger burdens for others and a less even playing field for energy costs."
Corporation Tax "Cutting Corporation Tax further to meet the Government's ambition to make the UK the most competitive tax regime in the G20 is excellent but it's focused on internationally mobile companies that can move their capital from country to country. For retailers business rates and people taxes are much more significant.
"And remember, corporation taxes are on profits. Little is paid in lean years. But rates are on property and rise relentlessly regardless of company results."
National Insurance – Employment Allowance "We called for a time-limited National Insurance holiday as an easy way to encourage businesses to take on young unemployed people. Existing incentives are cumbersome and not being taken up.
"The Employment Allowance will help many small businesses with the cost of taking on staff. But it won't incentivise larger businesses who also have a vital role in creating jobs."
Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) "Putting local businesses in the driving seat on pro-growth investment is the right approach but lack of resources is holding back delivery on the ground. Sometimes projects are undermined by the threat of funding being removed before they're finished.
"Having a Single Local Growth Fund available should help LEPs bring in private sector money and deliver programmes that make a real difference to local economic development across England. But the April 2015 start date is a long way off."
Faster card payments for SMEs "Moves to reduce the time it takes for small firms to receive money due to them from debit and credit card payments would help improve cash flow and reduce their need to borrow. That would particularly help small retailers struggling to access short term finance. But the scheme has to be a voluntary option for small businesses and the costs must not be excessive."
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