Analysis: What’s the best alternative to the broken business rates system?

Empty shop

Everyone seems to agree the UK’s outdated business rates are broken and its many detractors claim the system is crippling hopes of retail recovery post-lockdown. Yet there is less unanimity about finding a fairer alternative, as Mark Faithfull discovers.

What do you do with a problem like business rates? The retail and property industries appear united in the view that the current system is not working, with Marks & Spencer chief executive Steve Rowe declaring them an “unbearable yoke around the neck of thousands of shopkeepers”. As for a solution, well it depends on who you are.

The aim is to create a more equitable playing field for all retailers, but at the same time address any shortfall in the estimated £26bn that business rates raise for Chancellor Rishi Sunak, who is hardly awash with revenue-generating options right now.

The answer? Well there are many that have been put forward.

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