Retailers have banded together to urge chancellor Rishi Sunak to address business rates reform as British high streets struggle to survive.

High Street

In a letter to the chancellor, 21 high street retailers, including The Entertainer, Moss Bros and Iceland, have made a case for “genuine reform” as rates hamper  post-pandemic recovery.

Business rates have been called out multiple times over the past few years as an outdated tax that unfairly tips the scales towards online retailers whose warehouses lie out of town.

While retailers received business rates relief during the pandemic, Sunak is expected to announce the delay of reform discussions this autumn.

The letter, signed by Moss Bros boss Brian Brick, Flying Tiger Copenhagen co-founder Philip Bier, The Entertainer chief executive and founder Gary Grant and Iceland boss Richard Walker, said: “There are many views on precisely how the business rates system should be reformed, but on this we are all united: the current business rates system is broken and there must now be fundamental change.

“If there is no genuine reform of the business rates system, the occupation of commercial premises is going to become unaffordable to more businesses.

“There will be more bankruptcies of well-known retail brands, more retrenchment by retailers which do survive, more closures of hospitality venues, more boarded-up shops, fewer start-ups and whole shopping centres abandoned. Many communities are being hit hard, with thousands of jobs being lost each year.”

In recent months, retailers including John Lewis, Kingfisher and Tesco have also piled on pressure for Sunak to review business rates.

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