Business rates experts have criticised the Government for delaying the rates revaluation, in a meeting organised as part of the Grimsey Review into the high street.
Five business rates specialists - including head of rating at Colliers John Webber and head of rating at Montagu Evans Mark Higgin - and British Retail Consortium director-general Helen Dickinson met with former Focus boss Bill Grimsey, who is leading the review along with independent retailer and campaigner Paul Turner-Mitchell on Monday.
The industry experts said the Government’s “disastrous decision” to postpone the business rates revaluation to 2017 from 2015 “beggared belief”.
The Government believes delaying the revaluation will help businesses plan for the future.
But it has been widely criticised by the retail and property sector. Critics believe that without a revaluation many retailers will be paying unfairly high business rates because at present they are based on pre-recession 2008 data when retailers were paying top-of-the-market rents.
The planned 2015 revaluation would have meant business rates being calculated at 2013 rateable values. Under the Government’s plans, the 2017 change will be calculated at 2015 rateable values, which are likely to be higher than 2013.
Rates experts agreed that the current system is “fit for purpose” but it would work better if more frequent revaluations were undertaken. At present they take place every five years.
In addition, the experts agreed that the £25bn paid in business rates across the UK is unsustainable. The Grimsey Review is calling for the Government to freeze business rates next year.
Turner-Mitchell said: “The level of taxation is now unsustainable. It is a tough job to tackle it but we expect the Grimsey Review will provide recommendations to the Government that are cost neutral initially.”
Retail Week has been campaigning to freeze business rates and switch the calculation from September’s Retail Price Index to an annualised Consumer Price Index through the Fair Rates For Retail campaign.