Small business owners and retailers petition Government to reform business rates

A collection of groups representing over 100,000 retailers and other small businesses has petitioned the Government to reform business rates.

The letter is backed by the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS), the British Retail Consortium, British Chambers of Commerce, Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers and the Federation of Small Businesses.

Rates reform on the horizon?

In his autumn statement, then-Chancellor George Osborne announced the Government’s intention to review the rates of tax small businesses pay. ACS chief executive James Lowman responded “We welcome this overdue review, and we are pleased that it will take a look at radical options for reforming the outdated business rates system.

“The review must deliver help for high streets, be simpler than the current system, and offer incentives for investment rather than penalising businesses which improve their premises.”

Small businesses demand changes

The letter was written in consultation with the 100,000+ small businesses the groups represent and the suggestions outlined aim to make business rates “fairer”, support small businesses and stimulate growth in the UK economy. It calls for the following measures to be implemented as soon as possible:

  • Bring forward proposals to move annual increases from RPI (Retail Price Index) to the much more widely used CPI (Consumer Price Index) before 2020
  • Use the rating system to incentivise investment by reviewing existing schemes like those applied to plant and machinery
  • Reduce the number of business rate appeals by making valuing the smallest businesses simpler

The letter goes on to say “There is consensus from the business community that these actions could stimulate growth and show the government’s ambition to make the UK the best country in which to do business.”

Business rates are a burden to small business

Along with the letter’s publication, Mr Lowman added “The measures announced by the Chancellor in the most recent budget to implement reforms in the business rates system are welcome, but the Chancellor needs to move further and faster to ensure that small businesses are able to invest in their long term future.

“Business rate costs are a significantly higher burden than corporation tax for small businesses, and we hope that the Chancellor will recognise this through swift policy interventions.”

The full letter is available on the ACS website.

Do you think business rates are fair? Let us know in the comments below.

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