Since the announcement of a fundamental review of business rates by Government last year, we have been putting together a series of proposals to make the business rates system fairer for local shops.
Business rates are one of the biggest cost burdens on retailers, and while the Government’s review of the system is a great opportunity, there will be winners and losers. It’s our job to explain why local shops should be net beneficiaries of the review.
How do we think we can achieve this? Firstly, we want to see the smallest retailers taken out of the business rates system altogether, saving costs for retailers but also for the Valuation Office which calculates rates bills. Secondly, we need to incentivise investment, rather than the current system that gives you a higher rates bill if you have increased the value of your store. Thirdly, we need a complete overhaul of the separate rating schemes that give such disproportionately high rates bills for ATMs and forecourts.
We also need valuations every three years so that bills more accurately reflect changes in property values. Alongside this, we need the total income generated for Government by business rates to flex with the economic circumstances like every other tax, rather than being guaranteed to move every year with inflation.
We have a detailed submission which you can read on our website, along with a shorter infographic-style summary to help simplify what can be a complex issue. We have taken our case to ministers across a number of departments, including small business minister Anna Soubry, treasury minister David Gauke, and high streets minister Marcus Jones, to look at the feasibility of our proposals, and have been working closely with business groups to present a united voice on the need for reform.
The next milestone in the journey toward fairer business rates will be the Budget on July 8 – we will be watching closely to see if the Chancellor gives any indication of the direction his business rates review is taking.
The Government have set themselves a big task, now we need to see their pre-election pro-business rhetoric turn into action.