Retail Week has not given up the fight to get a fairer business rates system for retailers despite the Chancellor George Osborne shunning the sector in his Budget announcement today.
Retail Week and the British Retail Consortium are continuing their commitment to easing the burden of business rates on retailers through the Fair Rates For Retail Campaign.
Retailers face an additional £175m rates bill in April when the 2.6% increase comes into force. This follows £500m in additional rates costs over the past two years. But Osborne failed to even mention business rates in his speech.
Retail Week editor-in-chief Chris Brook-Carter said: “Chancellor George Osborne failed to heed the warnings of the retail industry and freeze business rates in the budget.
“It is a blow, but it’s hardly unexpected, and neither does it signal an end to our campaign for a full overhaul of this archaic and damaging system.”
Retail Week will continue to call on Government to change the rates system, and switch the calculation from inflation based on September’s RPI to an annual average based on CPI, which is viewed as a fairer, more robust system.
British Retail Consortium director general Helen Dickinson added: “When it matters so much to the retail sector, it’s very disappointing that the Budget made no mention of business rates let alone halted next month’s rise. But the Fairer Rates for Retail campaign was always two-pronged.
“The longer term, and perhaps more significant prize is a new formula for determining each year’s change which delivers increases that are more predictable and more affordable.
“The Government has already committed to reassess its approach. It’s now even more important that it delivers and we’ll go on asking it to do that.”
Last week business secretary Vince Cable revealed he has put forward to Government that it reform the outdated system.
Cable told Retail Week: “What I have suggested is that [the business rates regime] can be restructured.
“Is the valuation base the right one? That is the fundamental question we should be asking.”
Brook-Carter added: “Cable’s acknowledgement that the system is outdated is a small but significant victory for that pressure and opens the way for rates reform. The industry must now find the collective strength to push as hard as it can to ensure that door is flung wide open, an effort that will continue to have Retail Week’s full backing.”