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Retailers rally behind call for action on business rates reform

Published
today Feb 13, 2020
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The bosses of over 50 high street retailers, including fashion, homewares, department stores and supermarkets, have sent a letter to the government calling for ‘fundamental’ business rates reform.



The letter, addressed to the Chancellor, urges the UK government to take the first steps towards changing the controversial tax on commercial properties in the next Budget.

The initiative was coordinated by the British Retail Consortium, which has been very vocal about the business rates system being a contributing factor to the precarious state of the UK retail market.

The efforts focus on fixing transitional relief, which limits the speed at which a firm’s business rates liability changes in response to changes in its rateable value. It can mean those occupying stores that are losing value don't get rate cuts as fast as they should.

“The future of retail is an issue that matters to people everywhere -- it employs three million people and serves the needs of the entire country. Yet transitional relief undermines both the industry as a whole, and many regions that it serves,” said Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium.

The organisation said transitional relief forces retailers to subsidise other industries, and locations outside London to subsidise London businesses.

“Every year retail faces higher and higher business rates bills, holding back much-needed investment in an industry that is transforming at a dramatic pace. Swift action at the upcoming Budget would show the Chancellor was serious about levelling up all parts of the UK and supporting a retail industry towards realising a brighter future,” Dickinson continued.

Eric Mazillier, UK CEO of Decathlon, added: “The business rates system is broken and in urgent need of fundamental reform. It undermines investment in shops, damaging job creation and hurting high streets and town centres. Fixing the complex transitional relief scheme would be a good start.”

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