Alistair Darling bowed to pressure from business yesterday and announced plans to stagger this year’s increase in business rates – much of which will now fall after the general election.

The chancellor’s move came after a vigorous campaign against the 5% rise in business rate bills. The annual increase, due to come into effect today, would have been the biggest since the current system was introduced in the early 1990s.

Yesterday’s move will shunt much of the burden of the extra rates into the next parliament, widely expected to be a Conservative administration. Only 2% will have to be paid this year, with the other 3% spread over the following two years.

Financial Times, The Times, Daily Telegraph