Retail and property leaders are today calling on the Government to reconsider its decision to revalue business rates two years later than planned.
A consortium of groups including the Association of Convenience Stores, the British Property Federation, the British Council of Shopping Centres (BCSC) and the British Property Federation is upping the pressure on government ahead of today’s second reading of the Growth and Infrastructure Bill which includes its decision on a revaluation of business rates.
The bodies were incensed last month when the government revealed it will postpone the revaluation of business rates from 2015 to 2017 leaving retailers to continue paying business rates based on what the British Property Federation has dubbed “top of the market 2008 rents” for a further two years.
Association of Town Centre Management chief executive Martin Blackwell called for a “transparent impact assessment before introducing significant changes to the business rates system”.
Association of Convenience Stores chief executive James Lowman said: “Our fear is that this change will mean that small retailers who are currently saddled with valuations based on 2008 rentals – the high point of the market before the economic downturn – will have to wait longer for an adjustment downwards in the rate valuation. It is now time for a full review of the impact of the business rates system on retail growth and investment, not piecemeal initiatives such as this.”
BCSC chief executive Michael Green said: “Retailers around the country, especially in areas hardest hit by economic conditions, will be bemused by the Minister’s statement that they are likely to suffer as a consequence of a revaluation next year.
“As will consumers who have witnessed more and more empty shops on their high streets since 2008. If this argument is anything more than a fanciful forecasting then we need to see the government’s sums to see whether they add up. At this point in time, it’s hard to see how they do.”
Retail Week and the British Retail Consortium (BRC) are urging retailers to sign the petition to support the joint Fair Rates for Retail campaign, which calls on the Government to freeze rates next year. It also calls for a fairer way of calculating rates, by switching from Retail Prices Index to the Consumer Prices Index.