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BRC demands cross-party commitment to business rates reforms

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) is calling on the main political party leaders to back its campaign to reform the UK business rates system by 2017 in the run up to next year’s general election.

As part of an ongoing campaign to highlight the impact the current system has on the retail industry’s ability to invest and create employment opportunities, the lobby group has published a report, Manifesto Milestones, urging political leaders to commit to a number of reforms, including reducing the total amount of business rates, linking them to economic performance and introducing green energy incentives.

Helen Dickinson, director general of the BRC, said: “It is no longer an option to say that fundamental reform is too difficult or complicated – that particular ship has sailed. The challenge for politicians is to show us all how they are going to embrace the task of reform and deliver, with us, a system that is fit for the 21st century.”

Alongside the report, the BRC unveiled the results of a poll of 113 MPs, which shows four out of five believe the current system of business rates is “not fit for purpose and in need of fundamental reform”. The majority (93%) also agreed that “reform of business rates is an important area for the future success of the high street and town centres”.

The BRC said this demonstrated the emergence of a cross-party consensus on the need for reform.

Nick de Bois, Conservative MP for Enfield North and member of the all-party retail group, said: “The present business rates system is archaic and flawed. Often business rates exceed rents and are not linked to business performance.

“The Government has eased rates for many small businesses, but these measures are only temporary fixes. We need structural reform and the BRC have made a useful contribution to this policy debate.”

The poll of 113 MPs was carried out by Populus between April 24 and May 20. The BRC said the results were weighted to ensure they are representative of the party political make-up of the House of Commons.

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