Business chiefs press Chancellor for bolder changes

A coalition of groups – who together represent more than 100,000 retailers and other enterprises nationwide – have called for the Government to ease the business rates burden.

The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS), the British Retail Consortium and the Federation of Small Businesses are among the influential bodies which have put their names to the letter which has been sent to the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

George Osborne had previously announced a number of changes to Britain’s ageing system of business rates, having come under pressure to make the levies fairer. However, many business leaders don’t believe the package of adjustments goes far enough.

They make the case for ministers to prioritise a fundamental overhaul of business rates ahead of additional cuts to the UK’s Corporation Tax and be generally more ambitious in the scale of changes.

James Lowman, the ACS’ chief executive, said: “The measures announced by the Chancellor in the most recent budget to implement reforms in the business rates system are welcome, but the Chancellor needs to move further and faster to ensure that small businesses are able to invest in their long term future.

“Business rate costs are a significantly higher burden than Corporation Tax for small businesses, and we hope that the Chancellor will recognise this through swift policy interventions.”

Among the measures suggested in the letter include making it easier to value the smallest businesses to reduce the number of appeals and regularly review the rules to encourage greater levels of investment.

The letter reads: “There is consensus from the business community that these actions could stimulate growth and show the Government’s ambition to make the UK the best country in which to do business.”