The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) has welcomed commitments from all major Parties in England and Wales to reform the business rates system in the run up to the General Election.
The Conservative Party said in its manifesto, which it launched yesterday, that it would make “longer term reforms” to the business rates system.
“We will make sure that revaluations are conducted more frequently to avoid large changes to the bills that businesses face, and explore the introduction of self-assessments in the valuation process,” the manifesto states.
The Labour Party also said it would introduce reforms, including switching from RPI to CPI indexation and ensuring that businesses have access to a proper appeals process.
Also making a commitment to ‘lessen the burden’ on smaller businesses, the Liberal Democrats said it would review the Business Rates system. “We will prioritise reforms that recognise the development of the digital economy, lessening the burden on smaller businesses, and ensuring high streets remain competitive. We will also consider the implementation of Land Value Taxation,” the manifesto states.
The Welsh party, Plaid Cymru, said it would move towards a turnover-based system to “put an end to the ‘unfair business rates system”.
James Lowman, ACS chief executive, said: “We welcome the commitments from the major party manifestos on reforming the business rates system, and will work closely with the next Government to ensure that there is an effective and long lasting approach to setting business rates that promotes high streets, incentivises investment and better reflects changes in the business property market so that everyone pays their fair share.”
According to the ACS, one in three retailers are paying increased rates since the revaluation. Only 39 out of 326 local authorities have provided discretionary rate relief to local businesses using powers contained in the Localism Act.
Elsewhere in its manifesto, the Conservatives reiterated its pledge to increase the National Living Wage to 60% of median earnings by 2020 - up to £9.20 per hour.