Autumn statement: Business rates relief extension welcome, but small retailers face ever higher costs

Health Stores UK has welcomed aspects of the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement, but warns that high business costs continue to threaten the viability of crucially needed independent retailers. 

Key elements announced by Jeremy Hunt in the House of Commons on Wednesday included: 

• A cut in the main 12% rate of employee national insurance contributions by two percentage points to 10%.

• A continuation of business rates discount for hospitality, retail and leisure worth £4.3bn.

• A 10% increase in the National Living Wage 

Commenting, Len Glenville, chair of Health Stores UK, said: “We are pleased that the Chancellor has extended business rates relief for a further 12 months. Business rates are a major burden on small retail businesses, and literally can be a make or break for some. So this measure is sensible and targeted. However, the significant increase in the National Living Wage – up 10% – announced in the Autumn Statement will have unavoidable knock on effects on costs. While we all want to ensure our staff are fairly compensated, we urge the Government to provide support for small business like those of our members to be able to absorb higher wage costs. In other words, action needs to be taken to drive down costs in other areas.”

“More generally, we are hopeful that the reduction in National Insurance will help stimulate some extra spending on local high streets”.

On 4 December Health Stores UK will participate in a meeting with Kevin Hollinrake, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Business and Trade), at which it present members’ concerns and suggestions.

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