A 13-strong group of trade bodies have urged a government rethink on “outrageous” plans to prevent firms appealing against business rates rises.
The British Retail Consortium (BRC) is among the groups calling on ministers to drop the controversial plan, which has sparked widespread criticism.
Retailers will face a change to their bills from April 1, as the first revaluation for seven years takes effect.
More than 500,000 cafés, shops, hotels, nurseries, schools and hospitals will pay up to 300% more for their business rates, according to reports. However retailers such a Mountain Warehouse have told Retail Week it will see an overall drop in its bill.
Treasury Minister David Gauke also told the BBC three out of four firms would not see a rise in their bill.
But under the changes, businesses that see an increase could be stopped from appealing a bill if they are within a ‘margin of error’, accoring to the trade bodies.
BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said: “The plans for the new appeals process would mean that a business rates valuation determined to be inaccurate by the independent Valuation Tribunal for England, would only be corrected if it is deemed ‘outside the bounds of reasonable professional judgement’.
“This would be unfair to ratepayers and create additional uncertainty for local government.”
Head of business rates at property consultancy Gerald Eve Jerry Schurder said: “The government’s outrageous proposals… would force hard-pressed businesses to cough up an extra £1.9bn to pay for the Valuation Office Agency’s mistakes.
“The way that trade bodies from a wide spectrum of industries have been motivated to unite against this clause shows the strength of feeling against what is a punitive and deeply unfair proposal.”
The industry has long argued for reform to the business rates system, but have so far have been left frustrated at the lack of a widespread overhaul by government.
Mary Portas, who led a government-commissioned review of high streets in 2011, warned today that April’s hikes would kill off a third of independent shops and “cripple” high streets.