RESPONDING to business rate changes - the top campaign priority for Chambers of Commerce at the Spring Budget - Paul Griffiths, Chief Executive of Northamptonshire Chamber, said that businesses will 'breathe a little easier' after Philip Hammond's statement.
"The business communities hardest hit by this year's business rates revaluation will breathe a little easier thanks to the Chancellor's decision to offer a package of transitional reliefs," he said.
"We now challenge councils across England to use every penny of the new funding announced by the Chancellor to offer relief to the hardest-hit businesses in their areas, without excuses and without delay.
"However welcome, measures that mitigate the short-term impact of business rate rises are little more than a sticking plaster. The radical changes needed to improve the broken business rates system will have to wait for another day. The campaign for radical reform - and an end to punishing levels of business property tax to ensure the Treasury raises enough to fund local services - continues.
"The decision not to bring forward the switch in indexation from RPI to CPI will cost firms billions - bills they can ill-afford when taken together with other policy costs like the apprenticeship Levy, pensions auto-enrolment and higher tax on insurance premiums.
"The government had an opportunity to re-visit the detail of reform to the appeals system but has not addressed the serious concerns ratepayers have. This will mean more businesses seeking to correct an erroneous bill could go without redress.
"In the longer term, fundamental change is needed, including stripping plant and machinery from rates assessments that does so much to discourage business investment."