Shoppers believe reforming the business rates system to reduce retailers’ costs should be the government’s highest priority to support local shops, a survey has revealed.
Business rates scored highest (49%) when a national Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) poll asked consumers what they thought should be prioritised to help local businesses. The next most important measure was the reduction of car-parking charges.
An ACS spokesman said: “We were struck by how much councillors and members of the public were concerned about the cost of business rates. People really value their high streets, and they understand the costs of business rates are increasingly prohibitive. They want to see that burden reduced”.
In 2012, the government decided to defer the revaluation of business rates in England scheduled for 2013, which would have brought rates payments down in authorities where rents have fallen since 2008 in 2015. The next revaluation will take place next year and come into effect in 2017.
The survey, which also included members of local authority councils, revealed 25% of the public and 43% of councillors believe town centres should be prioritised over out-of-town locations.
It said town centres have continued to be overlooked by developers, with the majority of new development taking place out of town where real estate is cheaper.