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Retail bosses to lobby government over rate rises

The UK’s largest store groups have united to urge the Government to reverse plans to push through significant rate rises that will add tens of millions of pounds to retailers’ annual costs.

Retail executives, including Debenhams chief executive Rob Templeman and arcadia“>Arcadia boss Sir Philip Green, are reportedly planning to approach John Healey, the Local Government Minister, to demand that April’s steep rise in business rates is scaled back. Retailers believe that the increases could lead to yet more chains collapsing against the backdrop of the toughest retail environment in decades.

New Look chairman Phil Wrigley has accused the government of “playing Robin Hood”, by taking money from some sectors while bailing out others.

In April, the Uniform Business Rate (UBR) will increase at the highest rate since 1992. This is because the annual increase in UBR is determined by the inflation figure of the previous September. In September the Retail Price Index was 5% but last month inflation was just 0.1% but the 5% increase will be implemented regardless.

The British Retail Consortium estimates the changes will cost the industry £1.6 billion.

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