Business rates: radical reform or retailers revolt

Retailers pledge to turn their back on Conservatives if they break their promise of a radical business rates review. Sarah Parsons reports.

george osborne
George Osborne has some promises to deliver if he wants to keep the support of many retailers

Retailers across the country have given George Osborne an ultimatum: drastically overhaul business rates or lose our vote forever. 

Tory voter Amit Patel, of Belvedere News Food and Wine in Kent, pledged to remove his support unless a radical rates reform is made. 

“I voted for the Conservatives, but George Osborne needs to take all small businesses out of the business rates system completely so we can survive,”
he said.

Birmingham retailer Manjit Samra of Samra Supermarket claims that 11 stores have closed in his community due to business rates. He said: “People won’t put pen to paper, I won’t support them if they go back on their word.”

sajid javid
Sajid Javid: “Britain is the jobs factory of Europe”

Business Secretary Sajid Javid, skirted around the details of the business rates review at the Federation of Small Businesses Summer reception earlier this month, but claimed that “Britain is the jobs factory of Europe”. He is expected to be at the forefront of the business rates review, alongside small business minister Anna Soubry.

Retailers have said they will be forced to cut staff if the rates do not change.

“We’re already struggling, especially with the minimum wage rise and pensions. Staff jobs would be the first to go,” said Simone Calnon of Spar in Great Yarmouth.

Peter Wagg’s store, News on the Wharf, is located in the highest business rates area in the country, Canary Wharf in London. He said: “Business rates should be based on profits. How can Starbucks be charged the same as an independent on small margins?”

The reaction comes after the British Retail Consortium revealed that 80,000 high street shops could close unless the Government drastically overhauls the tax system.


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