Chancellor Sajid Javid has shrugged off pleas by the retail industry for reform of the “broken” business rates system.

Javid seemed to give the cold shoulder to proposals made by more than 50 business leaders in a letter coordinated by the British Retail Consortium, which was aimed at alleviating the burden of business rates.

Retail industry leaders including Harrods managing director Michael Ward, Iceland managing director Richard Walker and River Island chair Clive Lewis proposed four ‘fixes’ to address a business rates system they say is “broken”. 

The proposals included a freeze of the business rates multiplier, centrally funded upwards transitional relief, the introduction of ‘improvement relief’ and better resourcing of the Valuation Office Agency.

A Treasury spokeswoman did not comment on the specific proposals made by the retail chiefs, but said: “Last month, the prime minister announced a £3.6bn Towns Fund to support our high streets and town centres, allowing them to attract greater footfall, jobs and investment.

“The chancellor will announce further details of the government’s policy programme in the coming weeks and months.”

However, a senior industry source told Retail Week the £3.6bn comprised funding for projects that had “been in the pipeline for a number of years”.

The Treasury pointed out that there was a review of business rates in 2016 but there had been no consensus on alteratives. However, the retail boss said the review was flawed because it was conducted “within the constraints of the business rates system itself” and that “there was no consensus because it would have ended up robbing Peter to pay Paul – you need to look across all business taxes to see how they fit together”.

Following the government’s response to the letter from retailers, BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said: “There is complete agreement that the business rates system as it stands is broken. The fact there is no ready-made answer is part of the difficulty – that’s where government comes in. It needs to decide what it needs to incentivise. Does it want to disincentivise people with physical stores?”

The BRC is expected to carry on campaigning for business rates reform.