Retail veteran and high street campaigner Bill Grimsey has written an open letter to the Chancellor George Osbourne calling for him to use next month’s Autumn Statement to reform the UK’s business rates system.
In the letter, which was sent to the Chancellor on Friday, Grimsey said: “At a time when UK retail sales are down for October, high streets are still recording declining footfall and Tie Rack, Barratts shoes and Blockbuster are the latest household names to announce mass store closures, retailers are particularly fearful of the damage you could do.”
Grimsey, who wrote a review into the high street in September, added: “Any increase in business rates now would only exacerbate the unfairness many already feel following the postponement of this year’s business rates revaluation, which keeps rates pegged at 2008 levels near the peak of the property boom.
The former Iceland boss also urged the Chancellor to “use this year’s Autumn Statement to get to grips with this outdated tax and take the action that’s necessary to give our high streets a fighting chance of survival”.
Grimsey added: “This will require political courage. But most of all it’ll need common sense. Once these qualities are combined you’ll be able to put the high street back on a sound footing, instil confidence in business and put high streets at the heart of a meaningful recovery that people will begin to feel instead of just hearing politicians talk about it.”
The Chancellor will deliver his Autumn Statement on December 5.