The British Retail Consortium (BRC) joined forces with other business organisations yesterday (March 4) to demand action on business rates.
A joint letter to the Chancellor, signed by the BRC and other business groups, to include the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), the British Property Federation and the Association of Convenience Stores, called for four principles to be incorporated into the forthcoming review of business rates to ensure that it results in real change. The letter says that without these, high streets and town centres will continue to suffer from this ‘broken’ tax.
- The Government should look across the whole range of business taxes to spread the burden more equitably. Additionally, business rates cannot continue to be fiscally neutral, raising the same revenue each year. Business rates revenues, like other taxes, should fluctuate with changes in the economy.
- The business rates system must no longer penalise investment by businesses seeking to increase productivity, improve property sustainability and support jobs. Investment in new plant and machinery, or improvements to premises, is good for the economy. It is nonsensical that Britain’s tax system punishes businesses that are trying to invest and grow
- Simplifying business rates could promote understanding and coherence of the tax while reducing pressure on the Valuation Office Agency (VOA). This could include exempting or simplifying the assessment of businesses that yield little or no income but take up considerable VOA resources
- The Check, Challenge, Appeal system is failing to deliver an efficient means for businesses to rightfully challenge their business rates bills. Smaller businesses cannot challenge their rateable values without professional support, and larger business are having to invest heavily in additional agents to handle and track multiple appeals via an unwieldy portal
In addition to the above, the BRC particularly wants to see the complex system of transitional relief – whereby lower rates bills after revaluation are phased in over several years – reformed so that businesses pay the correct lower amount immediately, while retaining the protection against steep increases in bills.
Top: Chancellor Rishi Sunak is under pressure to act swiftly on business rates.