More than 50 major retailers have signed a letter to Chancellor Sajid Javid, calling for reforms to the business rates.

Business rates are charged on most non-domestic properties, based on their rateable value and a multiplier set by the Government.

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) and other business groups have campaigned for changes to the rates, saying they place an unfair burden on high street businesses.

The letter made four main recommendations to improve the system, saying the Government should take the following steps:

  • freeze the business rates multiplier
  • fix transitional relief
  • introduce an ‘improvement relief’ for ratepayers
  • ensure the Valuation Office Agency is fully resourced.

Data from the BRC said retail vacancy figures rose to 10.3% in July 2019, the highest level since January 2015, while 12-month average sales figures dropped to their lowest level on record.

Helen Dickinson, chief executive at the BRC, said:

“The fact that over 50 retail CEOs have come together on this issue should send a powerful message to the Government. 

“Retail accounts for 5% of the economy yet pays 25% of all business rates – this disparity is damaging our high streets and harming the communities they support.”

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