BRC warns of retail dead spots
The Government has been warned that it risks mass high street closures and creating retail dead spots if it grants local authorities the power to set business rates.

In a submission to the Treasury ahead of Chancellor Gordon Brown's pre-budget report in November, the British Retail Consortium said that it believed rates would 'escalate alarmingly' if the proposed change were made.

BRC policy director Nigel Smith said: 'With employment starting to stall, consumer confidence slipping and a severe slowdown in retail sales growth since last year, the Chancellor should be very careful not to tinker with the levers by adopting measures that will put retailers under further pressure.

'A return to local taxation will also create retail dead spots, particularly in deprived areas where individual businesses will be forced to carry a proportionally higher tax burden due to the fact that there are fewer businesses in these areas to foot the bill.'

The BRC wants rates - which it said cost retailers£4.5 billion each year - to be set centrally for the whole country, rather than locally.

In its submission, the trade body also called on the Chancellor to introduce tax relief for shop fit-outs and remove tax on retailers with on-site renewable energy systems.