Over 50 major UK retailers have joined hands to demand that the government take action to rectify the business rates system. In a letter to the new chancellor of the exchequer Sajid Javid, the retailers urged the government to put business rates at heart of the promised new economic package. The letter was coordinated by the British Retail Consortium (BRC).
The letter was signed by major retailers including the chief executive officers of supermarkets, food-to-go, fashion, homeware and department store retailers.
Retail remains the largest private sector employer in the UK, employing approximately three million people. The industry accounts for 5 per cent of the British economy, yet is burdened with 10 per cent of all business taxes, and 25 per cent of business rates, according to a BRC press release.
The letter asks for four fixes that would address many of the challenges posed by business rates: a freeze in the business rates multiplier; fixing transitional relief, which currently forces many retailers to pay more than they should; introducing an ‘Improvement Relief’ for ratepayers; and ensuring that the Valuation Office Agency is fully resourced to do its job.
The letter notes that implementation of these four recommendations “could be undertaken quickly, would reduce regional disparities, remove barriers to the proper working of market forces, incentivise economic investment, and cut away at least some of the bureaucracy of the current system.”
“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 new Government has an opportunity to unlock the full potential of retail in the UK, and the Prime Minister’s economic package provides a means to do so,” BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said.
The letter comes the day after BRC-Springboard data showed that UK vacancy figures had risen to 10.3 per cent, the highest since January 2015. It also comes shortly after the BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor showed the 12-month average sales figures dropped to their lowest level on record. (DS)
Fibre2Fashion News Desk – India