BIRA has warned, however, that tough times still lie ahead as consumer confidence continues to decline.
In the statement, it was announced that the National Living Wage will increase by 9.7% to £10.42 per hour, equating to a pay rise for a full-time employee of over £1,600 and benefitting two million of the lowest paid workers.
A £13.6 billion package of support was also announced for business rate payers in England. To protect businesses from rising inflation, the multiplier will be frozen in 2023-24. Relief for 230,000 businesses in retail, hospitality and leisure sectors was also increased from 50% to 75% next year.
To support businesses as they adjust to the revaluation of their properties, the chancellor announced a £1.6 billion Transitional Relief scheme to cap bill increases. This limits bill increases for the smallest properties to 5%.
Andrew Goodacre, ceo of BIRA, commented: “The autumn statement delivered some welcome news for independent retailers with regards to business rates.
“Next year, the multiplier will be frozen for 12 months, and the retail discount has been increased to 75% (from 50%) and downwards transitional relief has been removed. These are positive steps to support the high street.
“BIRA has been campaigning hard to reduce the cost burden on indie retailers. We actually asked the Government not to decrease the discount back in 2021, so it is great to see the chancellor listen to us this time around.”
Andrew warned of difficult times ahead for retailers, however: “While this is good news for next year, we are acutely aware that the business climate at the moment in extremely difficult, with consumer spending declining. We would like to have seen more done to encourage more spending, especially in the run up to Christmas and we are very oncerned that disposab le income will be reduced as a result of this budget.”