UK Parliament inquiry on impact of policy on business

February 05, 2019 - United Kingdom

The Treasury Committee of the UK Parliament has launched a new inquiry into ‘business rates’ to scrutinise how Government policy has impacted business. The committee will examine how business rates policy has changed, including business rates retention, alternatives to property-based taxes, and how changes to business rates could impact businesses.

The inquiry will look at how changes in Central Government policy have changed the business rates system. In turn, the inquiry will also look at how the current business rates system is operating and the associated impact on business.

The inquiry will cover the impact of changes in business rates policy since 2017 on businesses, in particular, the changes in reliefs and allowances, the ability of businesses to pay, and the relationship between business rates and the behaviours it drives in business.

The inquiry will also study how the current business rate system measures up against the four pillars of good tax policy, i.e. fair, support growth and encourage competition, provide certainty, and be coherent.

The scope of inquiry would also include the economic justification for a property-based business tax, including the impact of business rates on rental and property prices; alternatives to property-based business taxes, such as the proposed digital services tax; the problems associated with property-based business taxes; and the impact of changes (proposed and actual) of business rates on local authorities and councils, and the high street.

“Many high street businesses are struggling to remain competitive. It has been estimated that 10,000 shops will close this year. Unless action is taken, closures could continue, and job losses may soar,” said Nicky Morgan, chair of the Treasury Committee, on the launch of the inquiry.

“We will examine how the current system is working and consider whether an alternative system, for example a land-value based tax, may help level the playing field between retailers,” Morgan said.

“At the end of the inquiry, we will make a series of recommendations to Government on the fairness and effectiveness of the current system, and how it could be improved,” he added. (RKS)