Rate increase put on hold

<p>Alistair Darling has slashed the planned rise in business rates from 5% to 2%, in an 11th hour climbdown, reports the <em>Telegraph</em>.</p><p>Facing mounting business anger over the inflation-busting rise, the Chancellor told MPs in the Commons that businesses need only pay 2% more this year and could spread the remaining 3% increase over the next two years. &quot;I want to bring forward a measure that will help businesses, so I can tell the House that businesses need pay only two percent of the annual increase this year and they can pay the remaining three percent smoothed out over the following two years,&quot; he said.</p><p>But the <em>Daily Telegraph </em>has learnt that the relief will not be automatic and will only become available from August at the earliest. <br /><br /><br /></p>