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Eases in business rates and fuel duty, reveals Chancellor

Retailers will be able to defer 60% of the business rate increase coming up in 2012-13 equally across the following two years, Chancellor George Osborne revealed today.

The measure willl ease pressure on retailers concerned about the 5.6% increase in business rates due to take effect in April.

In his Autumn Statement Osborne also announced an extension to the current small business rate relief holiday for a further six months from October 1, 2012 to April 2013.
The Chancellor also tackled fuel duty – another retail concern – revealing the planned January fuel duty rise of 3% will be deferred to August 1, while the second fuel duty rise due in August has been scrapped.

Employment law will also be addressed further by the Government, recognising employer’s concerns over taking on new staff.

Up to £20bn will be available to small businesses - those with a turnover of less than £50m - through the National Loan Guarantee Scheme over two years. This aims to reduce interest rates that small businesses can borrow at. It is expected to lead to a one percentage point reduction in the rate of interest charged to small firms. Osborne used the example of a business facing a 7% interest rate to get a £5m loan, which could reduce its rate to 6%, while interest costs fall by up to £500,000.

A £1bn Business Finance Partnership will also be aimed at mid-sized companies that have been recognised by the CBI director general as a future source for growth.

The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) said today that it has revised down the UK’s forecast growth to 0.9% this year and growth of 0.7% next year but it “does not predict a recession here in Britain”.

Osborne said if the euro does not find a way through the current crisis and policy makers do not find a solution that delivers sovereign debt sustainability, they warn that there could be a “much worse outcome” for Britain.

Osborne said: “I believe they are right. We hope this can be averted. But if the rest of Europe heads into recession, it may prove hard to avoid one here in the UK.
“We are now undertaking extensive contingency planning to deal with all potential outcomes of the euro crisis.”

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