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Business rates: 2019 bill set for £180m rise

The BRC has called on the Government to freeze increases in business rates as retailers face a £180m increase next year.

‘Retailers alone are responsible for £7bn in business rates annually or a quarter of the overall total. The central problem with the rates system is that the national multiplier has grown out of proportion since its introduction in 1990, irrespective of the strength of the economy or success of businesses. An over-dependence on input taxes harms retailers, which are people and property intensive businesses, and such taxes have grown disproportionately compared to other taxes such as corporation tax. For every £1 retailers pay in the latter, they pay £2.30 in business rates,’ said Helen Dickinson, BRC chief executive.

‘Consumer behaviour has led to change in modern retail, but business rates are distorting the successful reinvention of places and efforts to future-proof the retail industry. Retail is found across all communities, but consumers now require fewer shops, and consequently staff, and the effect is being exacerbated by the growing cost of doing business. Simultaneously, there are communities facing serious challenges including high levels of deprivation and unemployment. ‘As retail continues to undergo change, these communities are at risk, increasing the need for Government action.

‘Retailers cannot afford or absorb another property tax hike; a freeze in the business rates multiplier would maintain the current rate of 49.3% for the next two years (which has risen relentlessly from a base of 34.8% in 1990) and avoid going over the 50% threshold which would have a detrimental impact on communities and retailers’ ability to respond to the rapid pace of transformation.’