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Business rates could increase by 2.3% in April

The Government has been urged to take action over the “ever-increasing burden of business rates” after it emerged businesses could face a 2.3% hike next year.

The rate normally used to calculate business rates increases, the Retail Price Index, was 2.3% in September, according to figures published by the Office for National Statistics.

This April, the Government imposed a cap of 2% on increases in business rates, but it was only for 12 months; business rates for April 2015 are set to be calculated using September’s RPI rate.

The British Retail Consortium said there was a clear consensus across British industry that more needs to be done to address the negative impact that the rates system is having on investment and employment opportunities.

It is urging the main political parties to address the issue in the run-up to next year’s general election.

BRC director general Helen Dickinson said: “This is a painful time in a retailer’s annual calendar as they are reminded of the ever-increasing burden of business rates. This rate only ever goes up. Retailers welcomed the steps taken by the Chancellor in last year’s Autumn Statement to mitigate these increases.

“It is essential that business rate increases are capped again to ensure the survival of our town centres and high streets until fundamental reform has been considered and implemented.

“We welcome the ongoing public discussion on this issue and we note that it has been recommended that the increase for 2015 should be confined to being 1% below RPI and frozen in the following year. We would be supportive of such measures providing a degree of affordability for businesses.”

Fashion retailers have been united in calls to overhaul the method of calculating and collecting rates.

In September, John Lewis, Karen Millen, Debenhams, New Look and Ann Summers were among more than 100 signatures of an open letter issued by the BRC calling for the business rates system to be reformed.

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