The British Retail Consortium (BRC) has published a report this morning criticising the Government for adding to retailers' business rates burdens.

The BRC is calling on the Government to immediately freeze all new business rates and reverse its policy on empty property relief, which was scrapped in April last year.

The report, Rates Debate: A Fair Deal for Retail, has been timed to coincide with a debate taking place in the House of Commons today over the new Business Rates Supplement Bill.

BRC director-general Stephen Robertson said: “Many retailers are struggling with the triple whammy of falling sales, crushed margins and rising costs. The Government must revise its plans to impose a range of extra burdens, which can only increase the pressure on retailers and destroy more of the UK's 3 million retail jobs.”

According to the BRC, the additional costs heaped on retailers from various government actions, including business rates revaluation, the end of empty property rate relief and extra business rates supplements, could amount to an added£1.6bn from the 2007/2008 figure.

The BRC points out the retailers' heavy property focus puts the industry in a more exposed position than most. Retailers pay 25 per cent of overall business rates despite representing only 8 per cent of Gross Domestic Product.