Business secretary Vince Cable believes the business rates system needs restructuring but has ruled out any changes being announced as part of next week’s Budget.
Before delivering a keynote address to the Retail Week Live conference this morning, Cable told Retail Week: “What I have suggested is that [the business rates regime] can be restructured.
“Is the valuation base the right one? That is the fundamental question we should be asking.”
Cable said it is unlikely the Government will make any changes to how business rates are calculated before the Chancellor announces the Budget next Wednesday.
But he added: “I think we should be starting a debate on how best to deal with taxation of business property.
“I made the point as a minister responsible for business but not taxation that there is an argument for looking at business rates in a comprehensive way.”
He added that the system is outdated and said Government will look to reform it.
Cable said that there is a popular case to extend rates relief for small businesses in particular, which he said had been a “very important help through this difficult period”.
Cable today outlined the Government’s action plan to help UK retailers grow overseas, particularly for omnichannel retailers and luxury brands.
Retail Week understands the business select committee is set to launch an inquiry into the state of retail by the end of this week.
Cable said it was a “healthy” move but he said his view on how the retail sector is trading differed from the committee’s.
“My starting point is there is lot of very positive things in the sector, I think their starting point is that it is in a state of crisis,” he added.
“There clearly have been closures of leading brands but overall employment in the retail sector has held up and the real story is the shift from front of shop retailing on high streets to ecommerce.”
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Video: Vince Cable opens door for business rates reform