Take action now on business rates

Helen Dickinson, director general of the British Retail Consortium.
Helen Dickinson, director general of the British Retail Consortium.
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Last year this newspaper, along with hundreds of sister Johnston Press titles, successfully lobbied the Government to conduct a full review into business rates.

Earlier this month consultation for the review ended, with a report expected in March next year - but the need for a huge overhaul of the rates is needed now, according to Helen Dickinson, director general of the British Retail Consortium.

She believes rates are responsible for tens of thousands of shops closures and job losses as well as “countless investments not made, businesses not expanded and employees not hired.”

She said: “Business needs some certainty. We understand that reforming an unwieldy tax like business rates will take time, but believe the Government should define a roadmap for reform of business rates to be in place by 2017.

“While fundamental reform is the ultimate goal, there are a number of measures which could be taken over the next six months. The Government should roll forward existing relief packages including Small Business Rate Relief and £1,500 High Street Retail Discounts, ensuring they are not funded through an increase to other ratepayers.

“It could also pause the annual uplift in business rates, remove the smallest properties entirely from the system while avoiding the ‘cliff edge’ for those just above our suggested cut off of £12,000 rateable valued properties and move to more frequent revaluations.

“For a Government that has advocated pro-growth policies to support business and embed the recovery, business rates are an anomaly and stand out in an otherwise moderate tax regime.

“We have set out how this tax on jobs and growth can be tackled; it is now essential that the newly elected Conservative Government works with us.”