Business secretary Greg Clark has hinted that business rates could be set to change, in a move which would provide some relief to a stricken high street.
He told a fringe event at the Conservative party conference that the societal and community role played by high streets and retail should be recognised and that adjusting business rates “will be one way of doing that”.
He added that the Treasury was conducting a review of business rates but that he believed retail “makes a big contribution to the community, and to villages, towns and cities… and I think some recognition of that is required. Business rates will be one way of doing that”.
Rising business rates, increased staff costs and a shift to online spending have combined to punish many bricks-and-mortar retailers with many big names entering administration or pursuing CVAs over the past year. The industry pays £7bn a year in rates, according to the BRC.
Last November, chancellor Philip Hammond brought forward a proposed cut to business rates, aligning them with the lower Consumer Prices Index measure of inflation, rather than the Retail Prices Index. However bodies such as the BRC have said that this does not go far enough.