Help at hand for retailers in budget today

The Chancellor has promised to help small shops by cutting business rates by a third for all retailers in England with a rateable value of £51,000 or less.

That will mean an annual saving of “up to £8,000 for up to 90% of all independent shops, pubs, restaurants and cafes” he told the packed House of Commons.

Mr Hammond also announced £675m of co-funding to create a “Future High Streets Fund” to support councils to draw up plans for the transformation of their High Streets. He added that this will allow them to invest in improvements and help the redevelopment of under-used retail and commercial areas into homes.

He also announced a new mandatory business rates relief for public toilets so that local authorities can, at last, “relieve themselves”.

Jokes abound, Mr Hammond couldn’t resist a deluge of toilet humour – literally: “For the convenience of the House, Mr Deputy Speaker, … and without wishing to get unduly bogged down in this subject … this relief will extend to any such facilities made available for public use, whether publicly or privately owned,” he announced to a guffawing House. “This is virtually the only announcement in this Budget that hasn’t leaked,” he concluded.