Tories reveal business rates overhaul plan ahead of election

Tories promise business rates relief if they win the election
// Conservatives to unveil plans to cut business rates
// Boris Johnson expected to pledge business rates cuts through a review of the system in its first budget
// He is also set to pledge tax relief of around £1000 for half a million businesses

Boris Johnson is set to unveil the Conservative party’s plans to overhaul the business rates system and provide tax relief for half a million businesses if they win next month’s election.

In a speech at today’s 2019 annual Confederation of British Industry (CBI) conference, the  PM is expected to say that a re-elected Conservative government would cut business rates by launching a review in its first budget, reported.

According to The Independent, Johnson is also expected to reveal plans to increase the employment allowance from £3000 to £4000, hence providing a tax cut of up to £1000 for more than half a million businesses.


The Tories are also set to increase the R&D tax rate from 12 per cent to 13 per cent, and increase the structures and buildings allowance (SBA) from two per cent to three per cent to increase the tax relief on the purchase, building or leasing of a structure.

“Business rates are one of the top concerns of British businesses, so a Conservative majority government will launch a fundamental review at our first budget, consulting widely,” the Tories said in a statement.

“We will reduce the overall burden of business rates as part of this review.”

The news comes after the Tories last week pledged to reduce business rates for small retailers and “overlooked and left behind” town centres by increasing the business rate discount available to smaller firms from 33 per cent to 50 per cent in 2020-2021.

The British Retail Consortium said that proposal needed “to go much further” if they were to provide proper stimulus for saving England’s high streets.

Speaking on today’s planned speech, Robert Hayton, head of UK business rates at real estate adviser Altus Group, said Johnson would just be “going over old ground”.

“The government undertook a comprehensive review of business rates at the budget in March 2015, publishing its response a year later,” Hayton said.

“Essentially we will be going over old ground, with the tough questions having already been asked, albeit that review was fiscally neutral.

“Business of all sizes will, however, be delighted to hear of the commitment to lower the overall burden, as we are far too reliant upon property for tax revenues with UK property taxes the highest across the EU and the standard rate of tax at its highest level since 1990.”

Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn, Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson and a senior Cabinet Minister will also take to the stage at the CBI conference today.

CBI boss Carolyn Fairbairn has been critical of both Johnson and Corbyn’s policies, and that the UK “cannot afford another wasted year of political paralysis, indecision and distraction while productivity and investment suffer”.

CBI also recently released its “A Programme for Prosperity” manifesto for all party leaders, suggesting that the next government needed to “address day-to-day concerns that have been neglected, including unreformed business rates [and] fixing the broken apprenticeship levy”.

It also said the UK needed to establish a new immigration system so as to provide access to labour and skills and give businesses time to adapt.

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