The government has defended its decision to delay a revaluation of business rates from 2013 to 2015.
Speaking at a Business, Innovation and Skills Committee, business minister Michael Fallon said there would have been “more losers than winners” had the revaluation taken place this year.
The delay means retailers will have to pay business rates based on rental values from 2008, when the property market was at its peak, for another two years.
High streets minister Brandon Lewis also defended the postponement to the committee, claiming rates bills for retailers would have increased by 1% following the revaluation. “We took the view that stability was more important,” he said.
While giving evidence, Lewis also called on local authorities to use their powers to help town centres and draw up long-term plans for how they want their high street to look.
The suggestion was criticised by Bill Grimsey, former chief executive of Iceland and Wickes, who also gave evidence to the committee. He urged central government to take more responsibility for struggling high streets and called for larger retailers to pay a one-off 0.25% levy on profits to fund a recovery plan for high streets, calling it “payback time”.
The British Retail Consortium welcomed the debate. Director general Helen Dickinson said: “Our members tell us time and again that this disproportionate tax has a crucial bearing on the health of our high streets and the industry’s ability to continue to invest and create local jobs.”