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New government policies to cost retailers £14bn

High street retailers might have to pay an extra £14bn by 2020 in new government taxes and initiatives.

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) has warned that business rates, the introduction of the national living wage and apprenticeship levy proposals are piling pressure on retailers.

Helen Dickinson, the director-general of the BRC, said: “We want to play our part in tackling low pay and encouraging social mobility but we are being hindered by business rates which are the biggest non-controllable cost that retailers face. We need flexibility if we are to make all these changes that the government wants in the right way.”

Dickinson said that without reform of business rates, which increase every year in line with inflation, retailers were facing a total bill of £41.4bn between now and 2020. This is on top of the extra £12.5bn that will be needed to fund new living wage proposals and an additional £651.9m for the apprenticeship levy scheme over the next five years.

The BRC is calling for a short-term freeze on the annual uplift in business rates every year, as well as more regular valuations of businesses’ rateable values, in advance of a much wider structural reform of the rating system.

The national living wage will come into effect in April, requiring all workers over the age of 25 to be paid £7.20 an hour, rising to £9 by 2020.

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