Retail landlords have lent their voice to the campaign against next year’s rise in business rates, warning that a disproportionate increase will endanger the economic recovery.
The British Council of Shopping Centres (BCSC) has this week written to the Government to urge it to change the method used to calculate next year’s increase in the Uniform Business Rate (UBR).
Under the current regime, the Government uses September’s RPI inflation rate to calculate the annual increase in rates bills, which will be introduced the following April. This week it was revealed the RPI was 4.6% last month.
But in a letter to local government minister Bob Neill, seen by Retail Week, BCSC executive director Edward Cooke has urged Government to raise the UBR in line with its own CPI target of 2% instead.
Last month the British Retail Consortium also wrote to Government to demand an alternative method to calculate next year’s rises in business rates.
Cooke said: “Business rates is increasingly becoming an owners’ issue, as much as an occupiers’ issue.”
Outlined in the BCSC letter, Cooke said that increasing rates would “constrain the ability of developers to deliver town centre regeneration schemes”. He said that business rates continued to account for a greater share of occupancy costs, therefore eroding potential rental values and thus the viability of proposed developments.
Cooke told Retail Week: “At a time of weak consumer confidence and slow sales growth, increasing costs are having a huge impact on many retail businesses’ ability to remain profitable.
Cooke is also requesting a face-to-face meeting with Neill. He said: “Increasing business rates by the Government’s target of 2% would show a willingness to support an industry that will be a key contributor to economic growth.”
British Property Federation chief executive Liz Peace also lent her body’s support and said the planned rise in business rates was “bad news for retailers, landlords and the economy”.