5 December 2013

Commenting on today’s Autumn Statement by Chancellor George Osborne, Hilary Hall, chief executive of the National Hairdressers’ Federation, said:

Today’s announcement by George Osborne that he will be capping increases in business rates next year is very welcome, as is his decision to extend small business rate relief. Both measures will help improve confidence on the high street where, for many retailers and salons, conditions remain challenging, even with the economy now beginning to improve. His announcement that businesses will be able to pay rates in monthly instalments is also positive.

“However, we are disappointed Mr Osborne missed the opportunity at this point to set in motion a full review of business rates, even though the possibility of one in 2017 is encouraging. Reform is long overdue. The current system of business rates is outdated and disadvantages businesses, such as hairdressing and barbering, which have no option but to have a physical presence on a high street. We’d like a model that takes better account of competition from online retailers, one that is more fairly balanced across town centre, out-of-town and online retail.

“We urge Mr Osborne to follow up his decision to extend small business rate relief by doing away with the constant uncertainty about its renewal and making it a permanent benefit for small businesses. It’d also be valuable for the government to put its weight behind an advertising campaign promoting its existence to small businesses and raising awareness. Finally, we’d like to see more work being done to encourage councils to communicate it locally as well as make it simpler and easier for small firms to access.”