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Portas calls for faster action on ‘crippling’ business rates

Retail guru Mary Portas has criticised the government for making “token gestures” in response to her 2011 review into how to revive struggling high streets.

She has urged the government to make faster action on “crippling” business rates and for local councils to be given the power to take control of empty shops.

A full structural review of the business rates system in England was announced in the Autumn Statement earlier this month, with the results due to be published in 2016.

She told BBC Breakfast today that 333 high streets have benefited from an investment of £3.6m via their town teams and pointed to additional funding through the High Street Innovation Fund and the High Street Renewal Awards.

However, she said: “Three years on there is still a big job to be done. The government has made token gestures in response to my review, but much more needs to happen, and fast.

“Why are there still so many empty shops left deteriorating on our high streets? Local authorities should be granted the power to take control of these premises and use them creatively or commercially for the benefit of the community.”

She asked: “Why are we still imposing crippling business rates which were established in Elizabethan times? The current system is out of date and favours online and big business. The Autumn Statement introduced some more rate relief measures, but these are just tinkering around the edges.”

Readers' comments (1)

  • Turn some high streets back to residential. Businesses often use rates as an excuse for they poor performance. They need to adapt and change their thinking and get out of the primary sites. You don't need to be there.

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