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Business groups call for immediate action to reduce cost of business rates

In a collaborative letter to Phillip Hammond, Chancellor of the Exchequer, several business groups have petitioned for an urgent rethink on the 2017 Budget, to address problems with the business rates system. Current plans are to increase business rates by 3.9 per cent in April 2018 (its highest increase since 2012) which will amount to UK businesses paying £1.1billion more annually.

While the Government has already committed to making “longer term reforms to the system to address concerns about the way it currently works”, the letter calls for action to take place now. It demands a full review of the rating for properties not based on rental values, delivery of more frequent revaluations of rates bills and the restructuring of the business rates system to incentivise investment.

James Lowman, chief executive of the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) said, “The business rates system is in urgent need of review to ensure that the system is fairer for everyone and that businesses are not unnecessarily penalised for investing and improving their offer to customers. We are urging the Chancellor to reform the rates system so that it incentivises investment and removes the threat of significant annual increases like the one scheduled for April 2018.”

Signatories of the letter include: the Association of Convenience Stores, Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers, British Retail Consortium, British Beer and Pub Association, British Chambers of Commerce, British Independent Retailers Association, British Property Federation, Confederation of British Industry, EEF, Federation of Small Businesses, Revo and Retra.

You can view the joint letter in full here.

What Mark Laurie thinks

Mark Laurie"Business rates simply do not relate to the changing nature of our high streets. We have internet giants paying little or no tax while high street retailers and food businesses are seeing their footfall drop as internet shopping takes over and rather than helping struggling businesses, the business rates go up.

"It’s almost as if we’re making up the shortfall caused by internet giants and their creative tax avoidance. This is an attack on the independent businesses that support the economy through innovation and job creation. I hope that the Government will listen to what this letter has to say and take action immediately."

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