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Indies demand business rates reform ahead of Budget

The British Independent Retailers Association (Bira) has urged chancellor Philip Hammond to consider its three-point plan to improve business rates ahead of tomorrow’s Budget, warning that thousands of small businesses could close if current proposals go ahead.

Bira slammed the government’s business rates revaluation, which is due to come into effect on 1 April, arguing that it comes “at the worst possible time” amid the uncertainty facing businesses because of Brexit, the national living wage and the falling value of the pound.

The association’s chief executive, Alan Hawkins, said: “In 2014 the chancellor announced a full structural review of business rates – all that has happened is a change to the appeals system and sticking plasters to the antiquated and unfair structure. We need fundamental reform and quick.

”The government has clearly stated its support of the great British high street in these tumultuous times, but now they have to demonstrate it and Philip Hammond needs to listen in advance of the Budget.”

Bira’s three-point plan:

  1. Government to issue an immediate retail-specific business rate relief of £1,500 as seen in Wales. Bira believes that the current £12,000 threshold is too low, and a relief of £1,500 would give an immediate relief, matching what government has done for the past two years while ”something more radical” is debated.
  2. Change the £12,000 threshold to a £12,000 allowance for all retail businesses. This would benefit smaller retail businesses with a reduction in their bill, which could be the difference between closing or surviving in 2017 and beyond.
  3. A fundamental reform of the rating system creating a completely new and fair rating structure for modern retailing. 

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