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Freeze London business rates amid 'uncertainty', urge West End retailers

Retailers in London’s West End are urging chancellor George Osborne to abandon the 2017 business rates revaluation in light of economic uncertainty caused by the vote to leave the European Union.

Fenwick store front

New West End Company, which represents firms on Bond Street, Oxford Street, Regent Street and the 22 surrounding streets, has written to Osborne to outline the significant economic contribution made by businesses in the area, which equates to as much gross value added (GVA) as the whole of Wales and more than the city of London.

The 2017 revaluation will see business rates for retailers rise by an average of 80% or £150m for retailers on Bond, Oxford and Regent streets in 2017 alone, the firm said.

It is calling on the government to at least introduce a transitional relief scheme, with a cap of 12.5% on rate increases, to help retailers gradually adjust to the increases.

“Britain’s vote to leave the EU has created significant economic doubt. In these times of insecurity, our major economic engines need to be supported more than ever,” said Sir Peter Rogers, chairman of New West End Company.

“With the financial uncertainty caused by the EU referendum vote, rising costs are now causing even more downward pressure on retail,” said Mark Fenwick, chairman of Fenwick. “Again we call on the government to suspend the proposed 80% increase in business rates revaluation next year.

“The proposed increase can only be detrimental to continued investment in the growth of the West End, which will eventually affect employment levels.”

Sue West, retail operations director Selfridges, said: “During this period of uncertainty, Selfridges fully supports the call for a freeze on business rates, to help secure the continual success of retail in the West End.”

Paul Lorraine, UK general manager at Longchamp and president of the Regent Street Association, agreed, suggesting that a freeze would be “a good first step” and one he would “wholeheartedly support”.






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