Senior industry figures have criticised chancellor Rishi Sunak for not going far enough in temporarily scrapping business rates for small retailers.

Rishi Sunak

‘Not enough’: Sunak’s first Budget

As part of a £30bn stimulus package announced in Wednesday’s Budget to protect the UK economy from the threat posed by Covid-19, business rates for small retail and leisure operators with rateable values below £51,000 will be suspended for a year.

Industry leaders welcomed the move but expressed dismay that it did not extend to larger retailers and leisure companies.

“While all the short-term measures to manage the fallout from coronavirus are welcome, the chancellor has missed a trick,” said British Property Federation chief executive Melanie Leech. “Our town and city centres, and businesses of all sizes, need more support today. It is not enough to just offer more relief to small businesses and ignore the UK’s bigger high street stores, which are some of the country’s largest employers.”

Mike Flecknoe, a partner at Cushman & Wakefield, added: “It is disappointing there was no business rates support in this Budget for large business, even those occupying multiple lower-value properties.”

The chancellor also introduced additional business rates relief for pubs and promised a “fundamental review” of the rates system, which will be published in the autumn.

Tim Beattie, head of UK rating at JLL, said: “The government needs to ensure it doesn’t just repeat other recent consultations that have all led to small, iterative changes.”

Other property-related measures include a stamp duty surcharge of 2% for overseas buyers of UK residential property. The change, which was promised in the Tory party manifesto and will come into effect in April 2021, was widely criticised.

“The 2% stamp duty tax on UK non-residents will likely be a further challenge for the high-end residential market, particularly in central London,” warned Clearbell senior partner Manish Chande.