Top UK retailers call for business rates review

A letter signed by more than 50 retail business leaders urges the Chancellor to enact “fundamental reform” to the “broken” system

Written by Rhys Thomas

Posted 14.02.2020 | Retail

Top UK retailers call for business rates review thumbnail

Dozens of the UK’s biggest retailers have called for a drastic overhaul to business rates in a letter sent yesterday to the Chancellor.

Senior figures from Asda, Sainsburys, Boots, Debenhams and Primark are among the more than 50 UK retail leaders to sign the missive, urging a full review of the “burden” they claim is “broken”.

Organised by the British Retail Consortium, the letter was sent yesterday to Chancellor Sajid Javid, prior to his ousting by the Prime Minister. 

The document claims “fundamental reform is needed in the medium term” and suggests a number of short-term measures to safeguard businesses and put an end to overpaying.

The “burden of business rates has become unsustainable for many retailers”, they write, particularly retailers outside the M25 who have effectively been subsidising businesses from other industries in the capital to the tune of more than £550m over the past three years.

Helen Dickinson, CEO of the BRC, says: “The future of retail is an issue that matters to people everywhere - it employs three million people and serves the needs of the entire country.

“Every year retail faces higher and higher business rates bills, holding back much needed investment in an industry that is transforming at a dramatic pace. Swift action at the upcoming Budget would show the Chancellor was serious about levelling up all parts of the UK and supporting a retail industry towards realising a brighter future.”

Mike Ashley’s Frasers Group has joined the consortium, claiming some stores in its estate are paying “up to four times the rates bills they should be”.

Earlier this week Toytwon in Woodbridge announced it was closing down at the end of the month. Along with shifts in kids’ habits, the owners cited business rates as a major contributor.

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