Chancellor George Osborne has bowed to lobbying and agreed to review business rates, though wholesale change to the tax is at least a year and a half away.

Mr Osborne used his Autumn Statement yesterday to say the Government will carry out a review of the future structure of business rates — which are calculated unfairly on pre-recession values according to many retailers — to report by Budget 2016.

He said the review will be fiscally neutral, with the Government to publish its interim findings from a review into business rates administration 12 months from now, in December 2015.

That would aim to set out how it will respond to business’ calls for clearer billing, better information sharing and a more efficient appeal system, he added.

In the short term, the Chancellor announced support for small businesses by extending the doubling of Small Business Rate Relief to April 2016, meaning 385,000 companies will get 100 per cent relief, and a further 190,000 businesses to get tapered relief on the tax.

Retailers operating stores with a rateable value of £50,000 or less — already benefiting from an earlier announced £1,000 business rates discount — will see that upped to £1,500 in 2015–16. The Chancellor added this would impact an estimated 300,000 properties.

He also pledged support for all businesses paying business rates by extending the 2 per cent cap on the RPI increase in the business rate multiplier to April 2016.

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