Warns Government not to return to 'the bad old days'
The British Retail Consortium has warned local authorities against 'returning to the bad old days' when applying a new supplementary business levy that was called for by a Government adviser.

The BRC was responding the publication of a Government-sponsored review of local authorities by Sir Michael Lyons, which ruled out allowing responsibility for setting business rates to return to town halls.

However, Lyons did recommend that local authorities should be able to charge a supplementary levy on businesses in order to fund transport or other infrastructure projects.

BRC director-general Kevin Hawkins said: 'The localised business rate system was scrapped in 1990 because it wasn't economically efficient or locally accountable. We are pleased this review does not support a return to those bad old days. This would be wrong now and wrong in the future.'

However, Hawkins added that he was 'concerned at how a supplementary business levy would be applied'. He warned against local authorities using the new levy power to pay for projects that should be covered in their existing budgets.

The BRC added that if councils were to 'force retailers to pay unpredictable and unaccountable supplementary levies,' its members may be reluctant to support the previously successful network of Business Improvement Districts in deprived areas.