Independent convenience retailers have demanded that the Government takes action on March 8 to lessen the devastating impact of sweeping business rate rises due to come in next month.

Retailers and trade organisations want business rates to be made fairer for all by overhauling the system, extending rates relief for shops hardest hit by increases and forcing online retailers without physical stores, such as Amazon, to pay their way.

The NFRN fired off a letter to Chancellor Philip Hammond ahead of the forthcoming Budget, calling for urgent relief for those hardest hit, particularly in London and the South East.

NFRN chief executive Paul Baxter said: “These increases hinder retailers from investing in their businesses and could put them out of business altogether.”

These increases could put them out of business altogether
Paul Baxter, NFRN

Peter Wagg, who runs five stores in London’s Canary Wharf, is facing a 40% rise in rates in some of his shops next month. “The system is completely outdated, it’s not a fair way of raising money,” he told Retail Express.

“High street shops and independents are getting stung and out-of-town supermarkets and Amazon-style warehouses are not paying.”

He said the Government should phase in the increases and suggested something like a local sales tax – the system used in America – would be fairer. “I sincerely hope something is done,” Wagg added. “I’m meeting my local MP where I live and have met the one for Canary Wharf too.”

Val Chung of Broomes in Buckhurst Hill, Essex, said her rates were rising next month. “They need to make the system fairer,” she said. “We’re being clobbered – independents are always hit hardest. Internet retailers don’t have to pay what we do.”

Peterborough retailer Amit Odedra added: “My feeling is the same as every other retailer – we are being penalised more than the big guys. Then they wonder why the high street is empty.”

The ACS has partnered with 10 trade bodies to pen a letter to the Government, also demanding action in the budget. The letter made four key points, saying the system needs to incentivise businesses, increase the frequency of revaluations, have more effective transitional relief and ensure the appeal system is fair.

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