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The Government has announced a package to help boost firms and high street businesses by capping increases in business rates. The scope of this article is limited to those announcements which apply to England due to the variations which may apply in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. The measures, to be introduced from 1 April 2014 will particularly support small and independent businesses. The Chancellor announced that business rate rises will be limited to 2% instead of being linked to inflation and that all businesses will be able to pay their business rates in 12 monthly instalments, rather than 10.
Businesses with retail and food and drink premises, with a rateable value of up to £50,000 will also receive a discount of £1,000 on their business rates for a period of two years. A 'reoccupation relief' will also be introduced that will see eligible businesses entitled to a 50% business rates discount when they move into retail premises that have been empty for more than 12 months. The discount will apply for a period of 18 months and is available to businesses that move into empty premises between 1 April 2014 and 31 March 2016.
A current scheme that offers business rate relief to small businesses has been extended. The doubling of the Small Business Rate Relief (SBRR) will be extended for a further 12 months to April 2015. The extension will mean that around 360,000 of the smallest businesses will continue to receive 100% relief from business rates until April 2015, with a further 180,000 benefitting from tapering relief. The criteria for SBRR eligibility will also be amended to allow businesses in receipt of SBRR to retain it for one year when they take on an additional property.
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The government's Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) begins winding down from 1 July.
The government has confirmed that employers of all sizes in England can now apply for £3,000 in extra funding to help them take on new apprentices.
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We will continue to closely monitor government advice on the situation and act accordingly.