Hammond hints of reform to business rates in Budget 2017

Chancellor Philip Hammond has given a limited suggestion in his Spring Budget speech that business rates are set to be reformed.

He said there was “scope to reform the revaluation processs” to “avoid the dramatic increases that the present system can deliver”. While he provided little information about how he intends to go about this, it is understood that rates will be revaluated more frequently than they are now.

The government’s “preferred approach” would be outlined soon enough, according to Hammond, although the plans would still be subject to consultations taking place before 2022, when the next revaluation will take place.

During his speech, the chancellor announced relief measures for businesses, but critics noted the measures were temporary rather than permanent.

“The mitigation measures announced to remove hardship are better than nothing, but are only adding sticking plasters to a tax that is clearly failing, and needs proper urgent reform,” said Michael Wistow, partner at White & Case.

Charles Beer, managing director of Alvarez & Marshal, said: “The chancellor’s announcement on business rates is equivalent to handing out a sticking plaster when the patient needs surgery. Property taxation in the UK – from business rates to council tax, stamp duty, CIL and s106 – needs fundamental long-term reform. Today’s announcement is merely short-term tinkering at the margins.”