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Gloucestershire Business News

The "broken business rates system" must be fixed say 50 top retailers

More than 50 major retailers have come together to demand fixes to what they have called a "broken business rates system."

In a letter to the chancellor of the exchequer Sajid Javid, coordinated by the British Retail Consortium, the retailers have asked rate reform to be given top priority by the treasury.

The letter has been signed by the CEOs of supermarkets, fashion, homeware and department store retailers, all of whom believe that shops get a rough deal when it comes to rates.

Around a quarter of all business rate revenue is paid by retailers, despite the retail sector accounting for just five per cent of the overall economy.

The retail sector is still the largest private sector employer in the UK with approximately three million people working in the sector.

The letter asks for four fixes which would address the challenges posed by the current business rate system.

They have called for a freeze in the business rates multiplier and a fix in transitional relief, which currently forces many retailers than they should.

The other changes include introducing an 'improvement relief' for ratepayers and to ensure that the Value Office Agency is fully resourced to do its job.

Helen Dickinson OBE, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium said the four fixes would be an important step to reform the "broken business rates system".

She added that the current system: "holds back investment, threatens jobs and harms our high streets.

"The new Government has an opportunity to unlock the full potential of retail in the UK, and the Prime Minister's economic package provides a means to do so," she said.

"The fact that over 50 retail CEOs have come together on this issue should send a powerful message to Government.

"By taking swift action of these recommendations, the Chancellor would send a clear message that the new Government understands the needs of local communities and that it will act decisively to support the jobs of the country's largest employer."

The letter comes the day after BRC-Springboard data showed that vacancy figures on the high street had risen to 10.3 per cent - the highest since January 2015.

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