The government has now confirmed its plans for business rates in the background briefing notes to today's queen’s speech.

These include bringing forward the next revaluation date from 2022 to 2021 and increasing the frequency of future revaluations in England to three years, from five years.

The retail discount, which is available for the 2019/20 and 2020/21 tax years, currently allows qualifying businesses with a rateable value of less than £51,000 a third off their business rates bills on top of any other reliefs for which they are eligible. The government has confirmed that it will increase the discount to 50% (probably from April 2020) and that it will be available to cinemas and music venues as well as independent shops, restaurants, cafés, bars and pubs. By doing so, it hopes to boost ailing high streets up and down the country. It will also extend the duration of the discount for local newspapers and introduce an additional discount for pubs.

In line with what was promised in the Conservative Party manifesto, the government has confirmed that it will launch a fundamental review of the whole business rates system (previously indicating that it would do so at or around the time of the March budget). 

In a recent plea to the government, Mike Ashley of the Frasers Group suggested that high street businesses, especially larger stores, will continue to close unless and until the system is effectively reformed. Whether the government’s actions will help to reinvigorate the high street as hoped remains to be seen.