The home delivery expert ParcelHero has welcomed Chancellor Hammond’s budget announcement that he will cut business rates by a third for all High Street retailers in England with a rateable value of £51,000 or less, and that he will not be introducing a rumoured online sales tax on goods bought online. However, the parcel price comparison site warns the claims Hammond’s budget dividends will not be impacted by a hard Brexit do not ring true.
ParcelHero’s Head of Consumer Research, David Jinks MILT, says that a no-deal Brexit could impact on today’s announcements, no matter how loudly the Government shouts all the spending increases will all take place ‘irrespective of Brexit’. ‘There would be no need to announce potentially upgrading the Spring statement into a new hard-Brexit budget if it were really to have no impact on today’s spending plans.’ says David.
‘There is a lot for retailers and consumers to applaud in today’s budget; but speaking as a business at the coalface of customs borders, we believe the new tariffs and delays a no-deal Brexit would create would make today’s announcements unsustainable.’
Adds David: ‘There is lots we applaud in this budget. For example, the continued cut in fuel duties and new £420m pothole funding will all help to keep delivery prices down; potholes are a continual scourge for couriers delivering in urban areas. And of course, in our recent report, Death of the High Street, we warned business rates will have to be cut to save High Street stores embattled by the growth of e-commerce.
‘We believe that the short-term relief on High Street business rates is vital to secure its future; but should be guaranteed to continue instead of being subject to new value adjustments in 2021.’
On the subject of the new digital services tax, David says: ‘Providing the tax really will only be paid by profitable international firms that have at least £500m a year in global revenues, and is not changed into a stealth online sales tax in the future, it is to be welcomed.
‘We have often said we do not believe an all-out online sales tax would help the High Street, but instead harm those retailers who have embraced the future and adopted a multi-channel High Street and e-commerce approach. Don’t forget the likes of John Lewis appeal to store visitors and online buyers alike. The Chancellor must promise that the new digital services tax will not morph into an online sales tax in the future.’
Concludes David: ‘As a business managing retail and home deliveries our industry is an accurate bellwether of the nation’s economy. We believe more support for the High Street in terms of a radical revision of business rates, and a Brexit deal as closely aligned with the EU Customs Union as possible, are essential to help British retail weather the oncoming storms.’
For more information about the impact of High Street business rates and a potential online sales tax see here.