Autumn Budget 2021: What it means for retail

Autumn Budget 2021

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has outlined the Autumn Budget 2021, setting out spending and tax plans for the coming year.

Sunak explained that the changes coming into effect were designed “to help those businesses hardest hit by the pandemic.”

This article takes a look at some of the key Autumn Budget 2021 takeaways, as well as featuring expert opinions.

50% business rates discount for retail companies

Sunak explained: “Pubs, music venues, cinemas, restaurants, hotels, theatres, gyms any eligible business can claim a discount on their bills of 50%, up to a maximum of £110,000.”

As well as the Small Business Rates Relief, he said that this means over 90% of retail, leisure and hospitality businesses will receive at least a 50%  discount.

Gareth Ogden, Partner, haysmacintyre, commented: “The discount of 50% in business rates for the next year and modernisation of the system, including a change in the multiplier, will be most welcome. Interestingly the discount will be capped at £110,000 and so whilst it will benefit smaller businesses who have particularly struggled in the course of the pandemic, the comparative impact for larger businesses will be limited.”

National Living Wage increase

The Autumn Budget 2021 has revealed that next year, there will be a 6.6% increase in National Living Wage, bringing it up to £9.50 an hour for those aged 23 and over. This accompanies a rise of 83p for those aged 21 to 22 and a 27p increase for those aged between 18 and 20.

Sandra Rowley at card payment solutions provider, said:”While the announcement of the rise of the minimum wage is welcomed for workers, for small businesses owners this is another cost challenge to running their business. 

“On top of the increase in energy bills, increase in petrol costs, rise in inflation and the confirmed national insurance increase, this 6.6% increase would require an additional £1,000 per year for minimum wage full time workers. Whilst there is some welcome news in the budget, the overall business environment will remain challenging for those small, independent businesses in the UK.

“One in four (28%) small business owners think the government should offer them extra support to help cover the minimum wage increase, according to our annual business trends report. This extra support could help businesses continue to contribute to the struggling economy.” 

Grants for ‘internationally mobile’ companies

Sarita Runeberg, Business Development Director at Reaktor shared her thoughts, explaining: “The retail sector has undoubtedly struggled the past 18 months as lockdowns and shifts in shopping trends have forced shoppers to order more online. With ecommerce coming to the forefront more, it’s great to see a commitment to improving networks, which will in turn allow this sector to embrace digital transformation. As announced in the Budget, the government is promising grants worth £1.4bn which will be given to “internationally mobile” companies to invest in UK infrastructure.

“This will enable retailers to have better connectivity and harness the benefits of this. For example, utilising data has been something the high street has increasingly become aware of, and creating a successful hybrid solution will be how the best retailers survive beyond the pandemic. From greater personalisation to tempt specific customers through to understanding best practice to improve sustainability and minimise waste – data holds the answers.”

More on the Autumn Budget 2021

To view the full Autumn Budget 2021 and Spending Review, click here.