U.K.'s Hammond to Cut Business Rates to Help Ailing High Street

(Bloomberg) -- The government is set to give a tax cut to retailers as part of efforts to save the U.K.’s struggling high streets, which have been hit by the growth of online retail.

A new business rates relief for almost half a million shops and pubs will reduce their bill by a third, Philip Hammond, U.K. Chancellor of the Exchequer, will announce in his budget speech Monday.

“Business rates are a heavy burden that throttle all firms with steep bills regardless of how well they’re doing or the economy is faring,” said Hannah Essex, co-executive director of policy and campaigns at the British Chamber of Commerce, one of four business lobby groups calling for a change to business rates in this year’s budget.

The tax break will cover about 90 percent of retailers. It also means the Chancellor will likely scrap an automatic inflation-linked rise of business rates for the next two years, Essex said.

The Treasury said the tax changes would cost 900 million pounds ($1.2 billion). In addition, it will start a 650 million pound New Future High Streets fund to boost infrastructure and redevelop underused properties and will relax some planning rules.

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