Retailers lobby for business rates reform

Published on: 1st July 2014

New research published by the British Retail Consortium finds that 80% of MPs believe the current system of business rates is ‘not fit for purpose and in need of fundamental reform’.walking-feet300

The poll, which also finds that 93% agree that ‘reform of business rates is an important area for the future success of the high street and town centres’, demonstrates the emergence of a cross-party consensus on the need for reform.

The BRC is calling on party leaders to sign up to reform in the run up the 2015 General Election and is publishing Manifesto Milestones, the next step in its campaign to see the complete reform of the UK business rates system by 2017.

The BRC has previously highlighted the impact the current business rates system has on the retail industry’s ability to invest and create employment opportunities.

The publication calls on all political parties to commit to fundamental reform of business rates and believes those parties that make this commitment, will win broad support from small and large businesses across industries currently suffering the inequalities created by the business rates system.

Further analysis of the BRC’s ideas for reform has highlighted requirements for future reform, including:

  • the total amount of business rates should be reduced
  • business rates should flex with overall economic performance as other taxes do
  • business rates should be shared equitably across the economy
  • the system should have positive incentives to encourage energy efficiency.

Commenting on the report, Helen Dickinson, Director General of the BRC, said: “It is no longer an option to say that fundamental reform is too difficult or complicated – that particular ship has sailed. The challenge for politicians is to show us all how they are going to embrace the task of reform and deliver, with us, a system that is fit for the 21st century.

John Rogers, chief financial officer at Sainsbury’s, said: “Our work has brought together small and large businesses from across sectors and businesses, but particularly from manufacturing who are also victims of our outdated system of business rates.  We believe a new consensus has emerged that sends the powerful message that business rates aren’t a retail problem, but a business problem.”

Nick de Bois, Conservative MP for Enfield North and member of the All Party Retail Group, added: “The present business rates system is archaic and flawed. Often business rates exceed rents and are not linked to business performance. The Government have eased rates for many small business but these measures are only temporary fixes. We need structural reform and the BRC have made a useful contribution to this policy debate.”

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