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Chancellor plans £1.5 billion to support high streets

Small retail businesses will see their business rates bills cut by a third for two years from April 2019, the Chancellor has said.

Philip Hammond made the announcement in the Autumn budget, which would save retailers £900 million.

Local high streets will benefit from £675 million to improve transport links, re-develop empty shops as homes and offices and restore and re-use old and historic properties.

The funding forms part of a wider £1.5 billion package to support the UK’s high streets.

The British Retail Consortium said: “While we hugely welcome the temporary support being given to small businesses, these measures alone are not sufficient to enable a successful reinvention of our high streets.

"Retailers are currently in the midst of a perfect storm of technology changing how people shop, rising public policy costs and softening demand.

"Struggling high streets require a broader outlook in order to thrive, particularly given the majority of the UK’s 3.1 million retail workers are employed in businesses that will not benefit from this announcement.

"The underlying issue remains that the business rates burden is simply too high and this unsustainable system needs less tinkering and more wholesale reform within the context of the wider taxation system."

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