The Economy

Part of Council Tax Rebate – in the House of Commons at 3:49 pm on 31st March 2009.

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Photo of Alistair Darling Alistair Darling The Chancellor of the Exchequer 3:49 pm, 31st March 2009

No, I want to deal with the point about business rates because I am conscious of the fact that businesses in this country faced a 5 per cent. increase in business rates, simply because the increase is linked to last autumn's—last September's—retail prices index rate. However, RPI inflation has fallen to 0 per cent. in the past month and is expected to fall further. I want to help businesses, so I can tell the House that companies will be able to pay only a 2 per cent. annual increase this year and pay the remaining 3 per cent. smoothed out over the following two years. Local authorities will write to business rate payers to let them know what will happen and what their options are, so businesses need not contact local authorities at this stage. I believe that that will provide genuine help to businesses in this country, with 1.5 million properties gaining from the measure and about £600 million of payments being deferred. I am glad that Mr. Dunne raised the matter. I hope that he is still glad that he did so.

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