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Queen’s Speech 2022: key new laws affecting small businesses

2-minute read

Catriona Smith

10 May 2022

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A business rates update and new laws to boost Britain’s high streets are just some of the takeaways from the Queen’s Speech today.

The Queen’s Speech is a chance for the government to outline key changes in the law at the start of a new parliamentary year. Here are some of the key legislative changes you need to know about.

Pavement licences made permanent

Hospitality businesses can continue to offer al fresco dining to customers all year round.

Initially a temporary measure during the pandemic, the ‘pavement licences’ will now be a permanent feature in Britain’s towns and cities. With pubs, restaurants and cafés expanding service onto the street, they can attract more customers and boost their income.

There hasn’t been much detail on this, but it’s thought that outdoor dining legislation will be featured in the new Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill.

UKHospitality’s CEO, Kate Nicholls, said: “Making pavement licences permanent is a really positive move. They were vital during the pandemic enabling businesses to trade, when they would otherwise be forced to close or restrict their opening hours.

“These outdoor spaces also benefit town and city centres, enabling them to enjoy the sort of outdoor experiences available elsewhere, and helping local economies recover faster, contributing to levelling up.”

Businesses will need to apply for permission to use public land for al fresco dining and outdoor pints through their local authority.

Modernising business rates

The business rates system is said to be getting a major overhaul as part of the Non-Domestic Rating Bill.

The government says there will be more frequent revaluations of commercial properties to give businesses the “confidence they are paying the right tax.”

Rateable values will now be reviewed every three years instead of five.

Find out more about business rates on the Knowledge centre.

Tackling empty premises on high streets

The new Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill is also aiming to give more power to councils so they can take control of buildings that are standing empty on the high street.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “New Compulsory Rental Auctions will ensure that landlords auction shops that have been vacant for over a year to prospective tenants, putting buildings to good use.

“The move will create opportunities for new businesses and community groups, paving the way for new jobs to boost employment, strengthening local economies and restoring local pride.”

‘Small business owners are still at breaking point’

Alan Thomas, UK CEO at Simply Business, comments: “With six million UK SMEs, together contributing trillions of pounds to the economy, today’s Queen’s Speech was a key opportunity to detail the bounce back needed, and left a lot to be desired.

“Making ‘pavement licenses’ permanent was a step in the right direction. These licenses allow thousands of hospitality businesses to offer al fresco dining all year round, giving them a much needed revenue boost as they continue to recover from the impact of the pandemic.

“Unfortunately there was much more to be desired for other sectors. We know small business owners are still at breaking point – feeling the crippling pressure of rising costs, energy and fuel prices. We also know the impact this is having on their mental wellbeing."

These announcements are part of 38 parliamentary bills, focused on growing the economy and easing the cost of living.

What did you think of the high street measures announced as part of the Queen’s Speech? Let us know in the comments.

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