BRC calls for business rates freeze to protect retail sector

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) has called on the Government to freeze business rates after current inflation figures of four per cent mean that retailers could face rates rises twice as big as last year.

The BRC said that, without government intervention, the latest ONS retail price inflation figures for September mean retailers could be facing an extra £270 million on their rates bills next April.

BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said: “The consequences of today’s RPI figures could be severe for many shops in a precarious position and struggling to survive. Consumers, already seeing household incomes eroded, will face further misery as the pound in their pocket buys them less at the checkout.

“For retailers, this will be compounded if UK ministers fail to act and stem the hefty near four per cent rise in business rates, which is set to add an extra quarter-of-a-billion pounds to retailers’ already unreasonable business rates burden.

“For many shops this may be the last straw. Across the country, especially in economically deprived and vulnerable communities, the cost of failing to take action will likely be seen in yet more empty shops and gap-toothed high streets.

“There are also other risks. Those shops who continue to trade may look to pass this extra rates cost on to hard-pressed consumers.

“Ministers’ mustn’t bury their heads in the sand. In his Budget next month, the Chancellor needs to get a grip on the matter and rule out a rise in business rates to help save shops, protect jobs, and preserve high streets.”