Budget 2016: how it affects small businesses

Help even for 'micro-entrepreneurs'

Britain Budget

In today's budget, chancellor George Osborne has attempted to help out the UK's small businesses.

There's even a little perk for those wanting to make a bit of money on the side by renting out a room on AirBNB or selling items online, in the form of two new £1,000 'micro-entrepreneur' tax allowances.

And more small businesses are set to escape paying business rates - which they've been complaining for years are simply too high. While small business rate relief is currently available with a threshold of £6,000 a year, this will rise to £15,000, and the threshold of the higher rate will be raised too.

It means, says Osborne, that as many as 630,000 small businesses will pay no business rates at all from next year, and that half a million will have their rates cut.

And, he says, from 2020, future business rates increases will be based on CPI rather than RPI, which should lead to less steep increases in future rates bills.

The announcements are receiving a cautious welcome from small businesses.

"The increased small business rate relief threshold will be a welcome measure for thousands of local shops who are facing rising costs in other areas of their business," says James Lowman, chief executive of the Association of Convenience Stores.

"We welcome the move from RPI to CPI for annual business rate increases but urge the Chancellor to cap rates increases in line with the government's 2% inflation target."

And there's good news for small businesses on stamp duty too, which is now changing to come into line with the new system for residential properties.

From midnight tonight, the rate will start at zero for commercial properties up to £150,000, with a duty of 2% on the next £100,000, rising to 5% for costs over £250,000. Nine out of ten of businesses will pay the same or less, according to Osborne.

"It's a big tax cut for small firms," he says.

Osborne is no doubt hoping to please the many small business owners who feel they have been hard hit by initiatives such as the National Living Wage.

However, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn described it as a 'budget for hedge fund managers more than for small businesses', pointing to what he called 'the 'mate's rates' deals for big corporations on tax deals'.

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