UK retail unimpressed by budget support for business rate victims
Unhappiness about the impact of new business rates on UK fashion retailers is continuing despite the government announcing relief measures in the budget on Wednesday.
The British Retail Consortium (BRC) called new measures “a sticking plaster” while the New West End Company condemned them as “disappointing”.
With the business property tax being raised for the first time in seven years, there are fears that both small independents and larger chains in some areas will suffer disproportionately, especially in major cities and parts of Southern England where property values are significantly higher than they were in 2010.
Last week the Institute for Fiscal Studies said the revaluation of business rates mean London alone will pay an extra £800m a year.
The UK government has now said that there will be a cap for some small businesses that means the rate they have to pay will not rise by more than £50 a month. Local authorities will also be able to access a special £300 million discretionary fund to help small businesses that are the hardest hit.
But Helen Dickinson, CEO of the BRC, said “more short-term relief measures continue to add complexity to an already impenetrable system.” She also said the new money is a “drop in the ocean compared with the £25bn a year that the [business] tax raises” and said the UK’s business rates are an “unsustainable property tax higher here than anywhere in the developed world”.
Meanwhile the New West End Company, which represents stores in oxford Street, Regent Street, Bond Street and the surrounding area, said it was “disappointed” by the measure.
Chairman Sir Peter Rogers Chancellor Philip Hammond “has missed the opportunity to deal with a major concern for London businesses.”
He said the relief “will have no impact on the majority of the companies in London and the West End which will suffer massive tax increases on April 1. This will mean closures and job losses.”
He also called for a more fundamental reform of the system, ensuring digital businesses and multi-nationals “make a fair contribution to Britain’s tax take.”
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