The creation of up to 14,500 new retail jobs is under threat if the Government implements its planned 2.6% business rates hike in April, according to estimates.

The increase is expected to add £175m to retailers’ rates bills. 

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) estimates the cost is equivalent to 14,500 entry-level retail jobs. 

That number would be in addition to those jobs forecast to be lost in the first quarter of 2013 by the BRC-Bond Pearce Retail Employment Monitor, which showed 50% of retailers expect to cut staffing levels in the period.

Retail Week and the BRC are lobbying the Government through the Fair Rates for Retail campaign to freeze business rates after two consecutive years of punishing increases, adding £500m to retailers’ cost burden. The campaign is also arguing for a fairer way of calculating business rates in the long-term by moving it from RPI to an average CPI across 12 months.

BRC director general Helen Dickinson said: “Against tough economic conditions, the costs of operating stores continues to rise at the same time as retailers are dealing with major structural changes due to the ways customers are now choosing to shop.

“For the future we need a formula that produces more affordable and predictable business rates moves. Using an annual average of CPI rather than a single month’s RPI would be one  way of achieving that. More immediately, we’re keen that the Chancellor should use the budget to scrap the £175 million increase in bills currently planned from April this year.  Our estimates show that’s equivalent to 14,500 entry-level retail jobs.”