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Business rates review 'a good start’

The British Retail Consortium has welcomed the business rates review consultation as making “a good start” to the overhaul of the much-debated rates system, but raised concerns that the next milestones between now and the March 2016 deadline are not clear.

As the deadline for the consultation passes on June 12, the retail organisation said that the 15 questions and requests for evidence “asked the right questions”.

But Bryan Johnston, external affairs advisor at the BRC, said that it is not yet clear what needs to be done before the March 2016 deadline.

“We also feel that as the issue is so wide-ranging it is missing rigorous, objective, analytical work and that the government should really take a lead on it,” he said. “They could either do it themselves or commission it, engaging the treasury teams, academia, tax experts and suchlike to look at it.”

The BRC has proposed that in the meantime leading up to 2017, the government needs to roll forward existing relief packages, including Small Business Rate Relief and £1,500 high street retail discounts, ensuring that they are not funded through an increase in the uniform business rates of other rate-payers.

It also recommends that the government remove the annual uplift and move to more frequent revaluations, such as every three years.

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