The British Retail Consortium (BRC) has urged the Chancellor to commit to reforming the business rates system in December’s Autumn Statement.
In a briefing to George Osborne, who will unveil the Autumn Statement on December 5, the BRC has called on the Government to lead a strategic review of the system and set up a joint working group with the retail sector.
The BRC believes that the high business rates paid by retailers are restricting investment.
In the briefing, the BRC said that easing the pressure on retailers would give them confidence to grow their businesses and create more job opportunities for young and long-term unemployed people.
In addition, the BRC said that despite consumer spending picking up over the summer, the performance was largely a result of one-off factors combined with deep discounting by retailers, demonstrating that the retail sector’s long-term recovery is not certain yet.
In the document the BRC also urged the Government to create more consistency across local authorities within the decision-making and delivery processes, including how they engage with the sector. It believes the Government needs to improve the support it gives to Business Improvement Districts, Local Enterprise Partnerships, local authorities and businesses.
In particular, the BRC has asked the Chancellor to allow the changes to the National Planning Policy Framework to bed-in without disruption.
The Government has previously said it is committed to reviewing how business rates are calculated “once our fiscal consolidation plans have been implemented”.
The BRC is working with Ernst & Young to come up with viable solutions to creating a fairer business rates system. The trade body is lobbying the Government to cap business rates rises at 2% next year. At present business rates are set to rise by 3.2% in April 2014, adding an estimated £242m in business rates.
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