LEGAL | Staff Reporter, UK

Greggs, Pret A Manger amongst 50-plus major retailers demanding review of business rates system

Signatories say a reformed system may help unlock the “full potential of retail”.

Greggs and Pret A Manger are amongst over fifty major retailers demanding the government to fix business taxation and prioritise business rates in the promised new economic package.

The letter to Chancellor Sajid Javid was coordinated by the British Retail Consortium. Other signatories include CEOs of ASDA, Association of Convenience Stores, Whittard of Chelsea and others.

The letter asked for the following fixes: a freeze in the business rates multiplier, fixing transitional relief, introducing an ‘improvement relief’ for ratepayers and ensuring that the Valuation Office Agency is fully resourced to do its job.

Signatories are imploring the government to reform the business rates tax system so they would only pay tax that “accurately reflects the value of their properties.”

They note that this will contribute to the growth of businesses and will help prevent closure of stores and the decline in both high street areas and local shopping areas.

The letter also states that the implementation of the four recommendations “could be undertaken quickly, would reduce regional disparities, remove barriers to the proper working of market forces, incentivise economic investment and cut away at least some of the bureaucracy of the current system.”

The retail industry is the largest private sector employer in the UK, employing approximately three million people. It accounts for 5% of the country’s economy, yet is burdened with 10% of all business taxes and 25% of business rates.

The letter shortly follows the BRC-Springboard data which showed that UK vacancy figures had risen to 10.3%, the highest since January 2015.

BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor also showed the 12-month average sales figures dropped to their lowest level on record, at 0.5%.

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