Most business focus was on Business Rates relief and the promise by Communities Secretary Sajid Javid that support would be made available to businesses worried about a “cliff edge” in their rates from the revaluation. The Chancellor promised two things:
- The transitional relief already pledged for those facing significant increases in their bills will be supplemented by an additional £435 million. Small businesses will see a limit in the increases to their bills, or a cap, with local authorities also given £300 million of discretionary relief.
- The Chancellor also pledged some longer-term work, promising to consult on the Government’s preferred approach for reforming the revaluation process. The Institute of Directors’ Andy Silvester expects that the three years before the next General Election should be sufficient to deliver major reforms.
The Budget also set out the initial steps the Government will take to protect consumers through the consumer and markets green paper. It will legislate ‘at the earliest opportunity’ to allow bodies such as the Competition and Markets Authority, to ask the courts to order civil fines against companies that break consumer law. In addition, they will develop proposals to protect consumers from facing unexpected payments when a subscription is renewed or when a free trial ends and consider how to make terms and conditions clearer, simpler and shorter for consumers to understand.