British Retail Consortium calls on new prime minister to freeze business rates

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Rishi Sunak is to meet King Charles today before entering No 10 as the UK’s new prime minister. Sunak won the leadership race after commons leader Penny Mordaunt failed to collect 100 nominations from Tory MPs before the deadline.

In a speech delivered at the Conservative party headquarters, the new Conservative leader promised to serve the United Kingdom with “integrity and humility.” So far his plans for running the country are unclear. However, over summer’s leadership campaign, he laid out a 10-point plan which included cutting the basic rate of income tax, reducing NHS backlogs, tackling illegal immigration and winning the 2024 General Election.

In a statement, he said: “The United Kingdom is a great country, but there is no doubt we face a profound economic challenge. We now need stability and unity, and I will make it my utmost priority to bring our party and our country together because that is the only way we will overcome the challenges we face and build a better, more prosperous future.”

Helen Dickinson, chief executive at the British Retail Consortium, says the new prime minister is taking office during one of the most challenging economic periods in history and urges him to prioritise freezing business rates before the planned rise in April: “With consumer confidence at historically low levels, he will need to provide certainty to households and support them through the cost of living crisis,” she says.

“Retailers are playing their part in supporting their customers, shielding them from the worst of rising costs resulting from a weaker pound, tight labour market and war in Ukraine. However, these efforts are threatened by the £800m bombshell of additional business rates that will hit retailers in April – a 10 per cent rise that far outstrips sales growth over the last year. To support consumers at this difficult time, government should freeze business rates and reform the broken transitional relief system, or it will be households that pay through higher prices.”