Business rates due a complete overhaul, say industry bodies

Trade bodies have called for a total rethink on Business Rates following research showing that thousands of businesses could close after April’s revaluation.

While MPs including the Prime Minister said smaller businesses could receive some kind of business rates support if they were struggling, eleven trade bodies have called for a complete and utter overhaul.

In a letter to Parliament, they said the current system is “unfair, outdated, and deters investment”, warning that tax will be a “key factor in shaping investment and growth in the UK economy for decades to come”.

It is signed by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), among others.

Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the BRC, said: “One of the key pillars of the [industrial] strategy is to drive growth around the country. Yet under the current business rates system the divide between the most prosperous and deprived areas will get bigger as a result and more businesses will decide to close in those less successful communities.

“The burden needs to fall across the board by recognising that the current system is no longer workable for the retail industry as a whole, or indeed any type of business.”

Likewise, David Fischel, chief executive of Intu, said the “extreme” business rates climate was a bigger deterrent to international retailers considering opening shops here than economic uncertainty surrounding Brexit.

“Retail has become a more global business. Retailers have choices, they don’t have to come to the UK. If they think it’s tougher here because of extreme business rates they will deploy capital where they can make the most profit,” he said.