A number of hospitality, leisure and retail organisations have called on the UK government to freeze business rates and extend existing reliefs for a further year, warning that the “future of high streets are at risk without the measures”.
A coalition has written to the Chancellor with the request ahead of the upcoming Autumn Statement, in a letter where the group noted that the sectors combine to pay more than 10 billion pounds in business rates a year.
According to the letter, an inflation-linked increase to the business rates multiplier could cost retail businesses 480 million pounds, something the British Retail Consortium’s chief executive, Helen Dickinson expressed hesitancy towards.
In a statement, Dickinson said: “Such a hefty increase will threaten to put renewed pressure on retail prices, as well as block new investment in our town and city centres.
“It is essential that the Chancellor uses the Autumn Statement to freeze business rates and give our local communities a fighting chance to thrive.”
The BRC were joined by the British Independent Retail Association (BIRA), Association of Convenience Stores and Ukactive, among others, to form the letter, which read: “An inflationary increase in the business rates multiplier and removal of reliefs would be disastrous for our sectors. It will mean business failures, job losses and boarded up properties in our high streets, denying people their livelihoods and their social pleasures.”
Andrew Goodacre, CEO of the BIRA, added: “Independent retailers are finding life on the high street incredibly difficult. Significant increases in interest rates have reduced consumer expenditure and in the first half of 2023 21,000 independent businesses closed.
“The current 75 percent retail discount on business rates must be retained as those smaller retailers cannot afford any increases in costs – many of them are still dealing with 10 percent increases in their rateable values earlier this year.”