The British Retail Consortium (BRC) has welcomed a promised review of the business rates system unveiled as part of the Conservative manifesto.
Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the BRC, praised the promise to fix the current “broken” system, but noted there was still much work to be done.
“Retailers welcome the calls to reduce business rates levied on retail business, but it is vital that this is applied to retailers of all sizes, including larger businesses, otherwise the benefit to our high streets and town centres will be limited,” she said.
“Proposed cuts to National Insurance contributions are also welcomed as part of the need to bring down the business tax burden. The next government should reduce the tax burden further, through business rates reforms, including scrapping ‘downwards transition’, which costs retailers £1.3bn over five years, and introducing an ‘improvement relief’ to boost investment in retail locations.”
The BRC also said it was “encouraged” by the commitment to training future workforces, and £600m funding promised to help upskill employees.
“The retail industry must be able to train their workforce so that employees’ skills remain relevant for the jobs of the future,” said Dickinson. “The increase in the National Skills Funds is welcomed by the industry, but we urge them to allow greater flexibility in how retailers can spend their Apprenticeship Levy funds.”
The BRC also welcomed plans to end Brexit uncertainty but stressed any exit must allow for “frictionless, tariff-free trade”.