Peter Hoskin

Darling’s surprise for businesses

Darling's surprise for businesses
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One for the surprising folder.  Alistair Darling has today announced a measure for businesses which seems fairly useful.  And he's done so with little expectation and even less fanfare.  So what is it?  Well, the 5% increase in business rates, planned for this year, has been spread out over three years.  So businesses will face a 2 percent rise this year, with the remaining 3 percent coming over the following two years.  The numbers suggest that over 1.5 millions buildings will be affected, with businesses "saving" £600 million this year.

Of course, it shouldn't be forgotten that business rates are still going to rise, and there'll be other catches as well (e.g. I expect this will be paid for by yet more borrowing).  But this still offers some relief for beleagued businesses - who will have been anticipating the eyewatering 5 percent rise - and it's a helluva lot cheaper than many of the pointless schemes we've seen over the past few months.

Various business groups have been pushing for this kind of measure - as did Alan Duncan, when shadow business secretary - so it's strange that it has been announced a day before the G20 kicks off proper, when it's likely to get swamped in the newspapers.  Ah well, I guess we'll get plenty of "Real Help Now" bombast next week...