Retail consultant Mary Portas has urged the chancellor to do more to tackle rising business rates.
Ahead of this week’s Budget, Portas said: “It’s imperative that government seriously considers freezing business rates so that our independent retailers have a fighting chance of survival in today’s shaky and volatile market.”
Business rates are to be set using the CPI [Consumer Prices Index] instead of RPI [Retail Prices Index] from 2020, a timeframe that has fallen under criticism from industry experts. Portas welcomed this move, but said it was not enough to ease the burden on businesses.
It follows calls from independent and multiple retailers to freeze the business rates multiplier, after inflation hit a five-year high last month.
Advisory service Altus Group warned that even if Phillip Hammond was to limit rate rises next year to 3% being the CPI rate, this would still drive revenue receipts up by £884m, with the retail sector shouldering £226million of that rise.
Robert Hayton, executive vice president of Altus Group, said: ”Whilst the indications are that the chancellor is signalling a concession in tax rises of about £266m, he should be bolder and go further.”
He added: “It isn’t only those whose values have increased that are struggling. The current, deeply unfair, system of transitional adjustment severely limits the amount by which bills can go down meaning many businesses in locations where values are falling are paying disproportionate bills.
“A rates liability freeze is the minimum that the chancellor should do for business in Wednesday’s Budget.”