Retailers demand government action on business rates - Retail Shopfitting Summit
  • Retailers demand government action on business rates

    Over fifty major retailers have come together to demand the Government takes action to fix the broken business rates system, in a move led by the British Retail Consortium (BRC).

    In a letter to the new Chancellor retailers called on the Government to put business rates at heart of the promised new economic package.

    It was signed by major retailers including the CEOs of supermarkets, food-to-go, fashion, homeware, and department store retailers. 

    The BRC says retail remains the largest private sector employer in the UK, employing approximately three million people. The industry accounts for 5% of the UK economy, yet is burdened with 10% of all business taxes, and 25% of business rates.

    The letter comes after BRC-Springboard data showed that UK Vacancy figures had risen to 10.3%, the highest since January 2015.

    It also comes shortly after the BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor showed the 12-month average sales figures dropped to their lowest level on record, at 0.5%.

    The letter asks for four fixes that would address many of the challenges posed by business rates:

    • A freeze in the business rates multiplier;
    • Fixing transitional relief, which currently forces many retailers to pay more than they should;
    • Introducing an ‘Improvement Relief’ for ratepayers;
    • Ensuring that the Valuation Office Agency is fully resourced to do its job.

    The letter notes that implementation of these four recommendations “could be undertaken quickly, would reduce regional disparities, remove barriers to the proper working of market forces, incentivise economic investment, and cut away at least some of the bureaucracy of the current system.”

    Helen Dickinson OBE, Chief Executive of the British Retail Consortium, said:These four fixes would be an important step to reform the broken business rates system which holds back investment, threatens jobs and harms our high streets. The new Government has an opportunity to unlock the full potential of retail in the UK, and the Prime Minister’s economic package provides a means to do so.

    “The fact that over fifty retail CEOs have come together on this issue should send a powerful message to Government. Retail accounts for 5% of the economy yet pays 25% of all business rates – this disparity is damaging our high streets and harming the communities they support.”

    Image by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay

    AUTHOR

    Stuart O'Brien

    All stories by: Stuart O'Brien

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