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BRC backs down from business rates freeze campaign

The British Retail Consortium has said it will not be calling for the Government to freeze business rates next year, following this year’s failed campaign.

The trade association is instead adopting what it hopes will be a more pragmatic approach in asking for a 2% cap on any increase in the short term. This brings the BRC in line with its counterpart the Confederation for British Industry (CBI).

The BRC still plans to push for overall reform of the method business rates are calculated in the long term.

In a letter to members, BRC director general Helen Dickinson said: “Any freeze would have to be for the whole of the rateable estate, rather than just retail premises (state aid rules, among other issues, play a part here). 

“A freeze would therefore cost HM Treasury almost £1bn in year one alone - an unrealistic ask.  Therefore, as we know you would not want us to be silent on business rates changes in the short term, we will align ourselves with the call for a cap as well as promoting our reform objective.”

The news comes just a day after inflation figures for July were published by the Office for National Statistics, showing that RPI remains higher than last year at 3.1%.

As things stand that could mean retailers facing a new tax bill of more than £200m in the next financial year.

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