The British Retail Consortium (BRC) has urged chancellor Philip Hammond to address the “unsustainable burden” of business rates in his autumn Budget.
Retail currently represents 5% of the economy, pays 10% of business tax and pays almost 25% of business rates, the BRC pointed out. Since 2015 there have been 3,200 store closures, and over 50,000 job losses.
The trade body wants Hammond to freeze the business rates multiplier for two years until the 2021 revaluation after which three-yearly revaluations will be undertaken, and to work with the industry to set out principles for future business taxation. He will present his autumn Budget on 29 October.
Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the BRC, said: “Retailers need the forthcoming Budget to reduce the cost burden on retail businesses. This will incentivise innovation and support the industry in creating quality jobs and providing great choice for consumers at competitive prices – future-proofing retail to ensure the best is made of the opportunities and challenges thrown up by transformation.
“The business taxation system is in urgent need of reform but any shift to an online sales tax would represent a double jeopardy for many retailers who are responding to customer demand and investing in online retailing. Eight out of the top 10 online retailers also have physical stores.
“If the government is to follow through on its commitment to ’back business’ it cannot penalise retailers for investing in our high streets or dis-incentivise them from investing in new technology to meet the challenge of changing shopping habits. We need a fundamental reform of the business taxation system to make it fit for a modern retail industry operating in the 21st century.”