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Retailers face £250 mn rates rise from today
Apr '09
Retailers face a £250 million pound increase in business rates bills from today (1 April 2009). The five per cent increase is hitting beleaguered retailers at a time when RPI inflation has fallen to zero and domestic council tax bills are typically rising by less than three per cent.

Many retailers, large and small, face even sharper rises as measures taken to soften the impact of the 2005 business rates revaluation end. Today's increase is part of Government plans which could push the retail sector's business rates bill up to £7 billion by 2010/11.

Today (Wednesday) is also the first anniversary of the abolition of rates relief on empty commercial property.

Ahead of the Budget, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) is meeting the Government today (Wednesday) to ask for a freeze on all new business rate burdens, reversal of the impact of today's increase and the reintroduction of empty property rates relief.

BRC research shows that annual increases, business rates revaluation, loss of empty property relief and business rates supplements could add £1.6 billion to the £5.45 billion retailers paid in business rates in 2007/2008. This is equivalent to the average salaries of over 100,000 retail employees.

Stephen Robertson, British Retail Consortium Director General, said: “I share the Government's concern about the rising number of empty shops and the impact on local economies and communities. Some predict fifteen per cent of all shops will be vacant by the end of this year. Adding £250 million to business rates bills can only add to the pressures on beleaguered retailers. With RPI inflation at zero, how can a five per cent rise be justified? The Government must use the Budget to reverse the impact of today's increase and freeze all new business rate burdens.”

British Retail Consortium

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