More than fifty of the UK’s leading retailers have written to the Chancellor calling for reforms to business rates in next month’s budget.
The letter, sent under the umbrella of the British Retail Consortium, was sent to Sajid Javid, hours before his surprise resignation. It focuses on fixing transitional relief, which limits the speed at which a firm’s business rates liability changes in response to changes in its rateable value.
They are calling on the government to “address many of the challenges posed by business rates” and also urges the Chancellor to effect a freeze in the business rates multiplier, introduce an “Improvement Relief” for ratepayers, and ensure the Valuation Office Agency is “fully resourced” to do its job.
It comes only days after the Institute of Directors urged the Government to “unleash entrepreneurialism” across the UK in its Budget submission published today.
Signatories include Asda, B&Q, Boots, Debenhams, Dixons Carphone, Greggs, B&Q, Asda and Ann Summers,Harvey Nichols, Marks & Spencer, Morrisons, and Sainsbury.
They argue that claims the current system has forced retailers to subsidise other industries to the tune of £543m over the past three years.
They also claim the system has led to retailers outside London providing a £596m subsidy to businesses in the capital over the same period.
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.
“The fact that over 50 retail CEOs have come together on this issue should send a powerful message to the 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”’
She added: “The future of retail is an issue that matters to people everywhere – it employs three million people and serves the needs of the entire country.
“Yet transitional relief undermines both the industry as a whole, and many regions that it serves.”