The British Retail Consortium (BRC) has responded to chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s Autumn Statement, praising the government for taking “an essential step towards longer term reform of the broken business rates system.”
As part of its new measures, announced last week, the multiplier has been frozen for 12 months – saving businesses an inflation-based hike of more than 10 per cent. Meanwhile, the current retail discount of 50 per cent will be increased to 75 per cent for businesses with rateable values below £110,000. Lastly, the downwards transitional relief has been removed next year, meaning any reduction in rateable values from the current review will be passed on to businesses immediately.
Helen Dickinson, chief executive at the British Retail consortium, comments: “Scrapping the downwards phasing of transitional relief means that April’s bills reflect market conditions and retailers will pay only what they owe, rather than being forced to overpay their rates bill when the value of their property has already fallen. This represents the first step towards a more fundamental reform of the broken business rates system.”
She also warns retailers are facing extreme financial pressure in the current climate and that BRC supports the government’s objective of bringing inflation down: “High inflation remains a major threat to the UK economy,” she adds. “Inflation is making people poorer, damaging consumer confidence and holding back demand. It pushes up the costs to businesses which further increases prices for consumers. As the retail industry enters the crucial Christmas period, it is vital that inflation is brought to heel.”