Worthing traders welcome budget but call for business rates reform

Worthing’s retailers have welcomed aspects of Rishi Sunak’s budget announcement today (March 3) but insisted business rates reform is essential to preserve our high streets.

This afternoon the chancellor of the exchequer announced a number of policies aimed at supporting businesses as we leave lockdown, including the extension of business rates holidays until the end of June.

After that, businesses will be required to pay discounted business rates.

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Non-essential shops reopening on April 12 are also eligible for up to £6,000 of grants to help them restart, while hospitality businesses forced to close for longer can claim up to £18,000.

Montague Street. Worthing. Pic Steve Robards SR2010264 SUS-201026-200840001

Speaking for many of Worthing’s traders, town centre manager Sharon Clarke said it was good to see ongoing support for businesses, particularly through business rate cuts.

“While this is most welcome some businesses are concerned that they will need to start paying in July which doesn’t give them much time to recover and build their sales levels to pre-lockdown levels,” she said.

“Some are saying that the grant to help businesses reopen will just have to be put aside to ensure they can pay the rates when they are due.

“Longer term businesses are keen to see business rates reform so high street businesses can compete fairly with their online competitors.”

The furlough scheme has also been extended until September, which Mrs Clarke welcomed as businesses rebuild gradually after lockdown.

Other schemes included in the budget include a continuation of five per cent VAT rates for businesses until the end of September, increased to 12.5 until April, 2022.

Corporation tax has also been increased to 25 per cent until 2023 for businesses making more than £250,000 of profit a year, with tax reducing on a sliding scale depending on the amount of profit made.

Mrs Clarke added: “Overall it’s a fair budget and as long as customers support their high streets then there is a lot of optimism.”