Retailers demand fix to ‘broken’ business rates
15 Aug 2019
The government is under pressure to take action on business rates, with over 50 major retailers supporting recommendations designed to fix what they describe as ‘the broken business rates system’
15 Aug 2019
In a letter to the new Chancellor, Sajid Javid, coordinated by the British Retail Consortium (BRC), the retailers called on the government to put business rates at heart of the promised new economic package. Signatories included the CEOs of supermarkets, food-to-go, fashion, homeware, and department store retailers.
The letter asks for four fixes, including 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; and ensuring that the Valuation Office Agency is fully resourced to do its job.
It 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, BRC chief executive 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.
‘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.’
The letter comes the day after BRC-Springboard data showed that UK vacancy figures have 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%.
According to KPMG’s data, on a total basis, sales increased by 0.3% in July, against an increase of 1.6% in July 2018. This is the lowest figure recorded for the month of July since records began in 1995 and comes after the worst June on records.
By Pat Sweet