The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) is spearheading a campaign to cap the annual business rates increase at 2% to keep it in line with government targets for inflation.
ACS chief executive James Lowman said a fairer system for calculating business rates was needed. “By deferring part of the business rate increase for two years in November’s Autumn Statement, the Chancellor took a positive step toward encouraging growth for retailers,” he said. “However, deferral schemes have been implemented twice in three years by consecutive governments after increases topped 5%, illustrating the need for a fairer system.”
Business rates are currently calculated using the Retail Price Index (RPI) inflation figures from the previous September. The unusually high RPI rate last year has meant that business owners will see an increase of 5.6% in April.
Ian Fletcher, director of policy at the British Property Federation - which is supporting the campaign - said: “Linking business rates to RPI has meant they have doubled over the past 20 years.”
The ACS also wants an extension to the Small Business Rate Relief Threshold as it says the £18,000 threshold is too low to support most retail businesses.
East Sussex retailer Sam Chapman said: “My store is above the threshold, but I’m still a small business and it doesn’t mean I’m doing particularly well. I want to expand the shop so rate relief would help.”
A pro forma letter created by the ACS is available at www.acs.org.uk/rates.