We have had a very good debate on the extremely important matter of business rates. I will reiterate right at the start that this Government want to see taxes as low as possible. We have made a number of advances in that respect, as the House will know, in areas such as income tax and corporation tax. Equally, we want the burden of rates on businesses up and down the country to be as low as possible. For that reason, as several right hon. and hon. Members have highlighted, we doubled the small business rates relief, from £6,000 to £12,000 as a rateable value threshold, taking 655,000 businesses out of business rates altogether.
We also switched from the retail prices index to the consumer prices index for the uprating of the multiplier, further reducing the burden by £5 billion over the next five years. In 2016 we introduced £300 million for hard cases, which is there for local authorities to use at their discretion. We doubled the level of rural rate relief, from 50% to 100%, to help small communities where perhaps there is just one pub, post office or petrol station. A number of right hon. and hon. Members mentioned the discount of one third brought in at the last Budget.
I congratulate my hon. and gallant Friend Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown on securing the debate. He asked a number of sensible and relevant questions about the whole way we structure our business rates. He asked specifically about the allowance, which we have discussed previously. We are looking at that seriously, but it depends to a large degree on us getting in place the digital arrangements between local authorities so that we can transfer information on business premises owned by the same entity. That programme will be introduced by about 2024, but I am happy to have further discussions with him on the matter.