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Government talks to be held over business rates fears

A consortium of key business groups is to hold talks with the government in an attempt to allay retailers’ concerns over the proposals for a “fiscally neutral” reform to the business rates system.

It is understood retailers are seeking clarity over the meaning of the term, as it could indicate any changes to business rates would not be allowed to affect the amount generated for the Treasury. This has led to fears that a substantial overhaul of the system will not take place by Budget 2016 as hoped.

There are also questions about whether the planned review refers to the overall income from the tax or the amount each sector pays, according to The Telegraph.

The British Retail Consortium, Confederation of British Industry, British Chambers of Commerce and Federation of Small Businesses will be among those sitting on the group, which is due to meet financial secretary to the Treasury David Gauke later this month.

Director general of the BRC Helen Dickinson said: “A big question for business rates payers will be the definition of fiscal neutrality within the review and whether that’s within the current confines of business rates or more broadly across all taxes, and how it accounts for the recent adjustments to total income through special reliefs.

“We would favour as broad a definition as possible to enable real flexibility as the review moves forward.”

It comes as a BRC survey of UK retailers highlights ongoing concerns about the current business rates system.


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