The British Retail Consortium (BRC) has said action is needed to “protect shops and jobs” as business rates for retailers are set to rise by £200m for 2019/20.
In a submission made to the Treasury Select Committee today (1 April), the BRC has set out a framework to “fix the broken business tax system”, under the principles of ‘Relief, Review and Reform’.
Since it started in 1990, business rates have risen 45%, from 38.4p to 50.4p in the pound, meaning shops will now be paying over half of their rateable value again in business rates before they have even made a penny in sales.
The BRC has called for a number of changes to be made, culminating in an Independent Review of Business Taxation that looks at how various business taxes should be levied to ensure that the tax framework is “fit for the 21st Century”.
Helen Dickinson, CEO of the BRC, said: “Retail is in the midst of a transformation as new technologies and changing consumer behaviour impact the way we shop. The investment needed for this reinvention is being held back by a rising tide of public policy costs, with business rates the biggest among these.
“Retail accounts for 5% of the economy, yet pays 10% of all business taxes and a staggering 25% of business rates. This is simply not sustainable; the raft of shop closures and job losses are testament to that.”
She added: “While government fiddles at the edges, retail suffers and consumers pay the price. The Treasury Select Committee Inquiry comes at a critical moment for the retail industry. If the committee can seize the opportunity to find a way to address the madness of a system which is strangling our high streets, they can protect shops and jobs and put British retail on the right trajectory for the future.”