Conservatives drop “fiscally neutral” rule from business rate reforms

Stuart Hicks, Manchester Office, Director - Dunlop Heywood

By Stuart Hicks, Director

Phillip Hammond’s repeated pledge to keep any business rate reforms fiscally neutral have been relegated to the political wilderness by an electioneering Conservative Party which is promising to reduce the overall tax burden at its first budget review.

But before we start cracking open the Moet, the Party said a Conservative majority Government would also launch another review for “consulting widely.” Bearing in mind the ink is barely dry on recommendations meted out by the respected Treasury Select Committee after its review, (and not to mention this Government’s own review which reported back in 2016) the feeling  of déjà vu is overwhelming.

However, the latest Conservative Party statement did go further to say that as business rates was one of the top concerns of British businesses, they will “reduce the overall burden… as part of this review.”

Good news for businesses and retail if the overall tax burden from business rates is to be reduced but it is hard to see what startling revelations another review will unearth that hasn’t been covered by the previous examinations.

Obviously, Boris Johnson’s latest pledge coincided neatly with his appearance at Monday’s annual Confederation of British Industry conference. Regardless, expect delighted reaction from all quarters, particularly retailers.