Trevor Scott, the Rugby Fitted Kitchen boss gives his views on the Budget and concludes that while the Chancellor Philip Hammond may give with one hand, he takes away with the other
With Brexit looming, it was inevitable Spreadsheet Phil would try to present a Budget that appeared, at face value, to be giving something back.
And the phrase ‘the end of austerity’ had a nice ring to it, but did the Chancellor actually deliver?
As far a small business rate relief goes, it has to be said that yes, he has; but in the face of the near total collapse of our high streets over the past five years, with the pace and scale of failure increasing almost exponentially, is it too little too late?
Personally, I think it is, as the British consumer has completely fallen in love with the internet as a way to shop and figures bear this out.
Thank goodness most KBB retailers are not dependent purely on footfall and draw their clients in by way of recommendation, word of mouth and proactive marketing.
Rents are still far too high, with landlords demanding unrealistic rent reviews for leaseholders looking to renew, and threatening them with colossal dilapidations costs if they try to walk away. This is forcing an ageing generation of shopkeepers to keep going, despite all logic telling them to get out… NOW!
And beware the slap on the back. The Chancellor gives with one hand, but takes away with the other.
Town-centre services are still going to need to be provided and paid for, and if not out of the civic budget, then how?
The answer to this is the insidious and creeping growth of Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) across the country. As town and county councils struggle to meet their budgets, private, ‘business community’-led organisations provide non-essential services, such as street cleaning, CCTV, civic events etc, – sounds like a good idea.
Until, that is, you drill down into it and quickly learn that most BIDs, while claiming to be elected, are in effect forced on to business communities against their wishes, who then have no say in how they are run. Businesses are forced by law to pay the levy (tax), which, surprise surprise, is usually a percentage of rateable value and is collected by the local council, with dissenters and non-payers being prosecuted.
BIDs are gravy trains that desperate councils have latched on to and they’re growing as the Government is actively encouraging them as a way of decreasing direct council spending.
Take look at the Against BIDs Facebook page for more information.