Trade bodies unite to urge rates reform

Claire Dodd

Claire Dodd

23 February 2017

A group of trade bodies, representing over 100,000 businesses has joined forces to lobby the government to take action to lessen the impact of business rate increases in April.

Eleven business organisations have written to all MPs to express concern about the impact of increases in rates will have on their members.

The letter calls for: a change to the system so that it incentivises business to invest instead of deterring them; an increase in the frequency of revaluations to deliver more accurate rates bills; ensuring that businesses can receive a fair hearing when their rating assessments are incorrect; and reducing the overall burden on businesses through effective transitional relief and linking the multiplier to CPI before 2020.

Signatories include the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers, the British Beer and Pub Association, the British Chambers of Commerce, the British Hospitality Association, the Confederation of British Industry, and the Federation of Small Businesses.

ALMR chief executive Kate Nicholls said: 'This joint letter includes signatures from all aspects retail, hospitality, property and commerce, showing what a widespread issue the problem of business rates is.

'The future of business rates is a key priority for the ALMR and we have indicated our willingness to work closely with the Government to facilitate change that is fair and benefits businesses. In particular, we need to see a move away from the system currently in place that penalises pubs and bars for their success and deters investment.'

Yesterday the government announced that it will reveal in its 8 March budget whether the £3.6bn fund for transitional rates relief will increase. It pledged extra help for small firms affected by upcoming increases, but maintained that three-quarters of all businesses pay the same amount or less than before.

Brigid Simmonds, BBPA chief executive welcomed the review. 'There is a huge need for more transitional relief for the pubs most badly affected,' she said. 'It should also look at moving large pubs, whose turnover does not necessarily reflect their profitability, into a category where their first year increase will be capped.

'However, a wider review is needed, so that the government can consider the specific needs of the pub sector, which should have its own system of relief, given we are shouldering such an unfair share of the rates burden. The BBPA believes that pubs are overpaying business rates by £500 million.'

Meanwhile, The Scottish Beer and Pub Association has welcomed the one-year cap on business rate increases in Scotland for the hospitality sector, at 12.5%, as announced by the Scottish government.

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