Symbol groups and independent retailers have joined the ‘big four’ supermarkets, other retail giants and numerous businesses in calling for urgent action to overhaul business rates. 

The call came in the form of an open letter to politicians across the board, with more than 100 companies signing up to urge them to move now to solve what they called “a critical problem”. 

Signatories from the convenience store sector include the likes of Bargain Booze, Costcutter, the ACS and the Rural Shops Alliance. They join a list that reads like a who’s who of major retailers. 

“We call on all political parties to commit to fundamental reform in their manifestos for the next General Election”

Open letter

The letter, published in the Daily Telegraph, said the current system was “not fit for purpose” in the current day and age. 

The phrase echoes the comments made by All-Party Parliamentary Small Shops Group chair Simon Danczuk to Retail Express, while RE also revealed the scale of the problem with the news that a mammoth £4.2bn has been set aside to repay businesses who have been charged too much. 

The letter ensures business rates remain firmly on the agenda, with the signatories trying to force action ahead of 2017, when chancellor George Osborne has pledged to review the current system. 

Instead, the letter says the main parties should offer up their ideas before the General Election next year. 

“It is no longer an option to say that reform is too difficult or complicated,” it said, “and we call on all political parties to commit to fundamental reform in their manifestos for the next General Election.”

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “We cannot continue with a system where Government increases the amount of money it takes from commercial property year after year. We also want a system that is fairer and more accurate in how it values property to ensure that business are not paying rates that are out of step with the commercial value of the property they occupy.”