Chancellor commits to businesses rates relief

Chancellor George Osborne has announced another year of tax relief for small businesses and tax cuts for employers with apprentices.

Osborne announced his Autumn Statement to the Commons this afternoon, in which he stated the country was “on course to prosperity”, but that “much more needed to be done on productivity”.

As expected, Osborne revealed plans to help growth for small businesses, with another year of business rates relief, which he told the Commons affects 500,000 businesses, with half of these paying no tax.

This means businesses with a value under £18,000 or £25,000 in London, can claim half of their business rates back for another year.

Experts have previously argued business rates are “crippling small firms” and preventing growth, The Daily Telegraph reported.

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) will welcome the news, as it lobbied for reform to business rates prior to the announcement. In a letter to the Chancellor, Helen Dickinson, BRC director general, said: “The retail industry’s championing of the need for fundamental reform of business rates is being increasingly amplified by industries as diverse as steel and car manufacturing and some of the country’s largest property companies. This is a strong indication that the time is right to set out a roadmap to fundamentally reform the system and make it fit-for-purpose for the 21st century.

“We do not have any expectation that this could be fulfilled in advance of the general election, but an indication that it will be on the agenda for a future government will resonate very well across British business and facilitate further planning to allow business to play a fuller part in the economic recovery.”

Businesses with apprentices will also benefit from planned cuts to income tax. Osborne said he would eradicate employer national insurance contributions for all but the highest-earning apprentices aged under 25 .

Osborne also announced a 25% tax on multinationals in the UK who shift their profits off-shore, which the Chancellor said would raise £1bn over five years.

However, trade union Unison opposed the announcement stating not enough has been done for low paid workers: "There is nothing in his statement that will support workers and the lowest-paid." Unison said in a statement, "the rise of precarious jobs is hardly something to be proud of. More people work part-time because they can't find full-time jobs, more people are on precarious zero-hour contracts.

"The recovery the Government has been boasting about is still not being felt by workers. A recovery that only benefits the few privileged in this country is no good for the economy and for workers.

"The economy is not safe and nor are workers whose jobs are increasingly insecure. And the hardest-hit are communities and the most vulnerable. This was the Government's last chance to reverse the cuts. They will now pay the price at the next election."

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