The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) has put its name to a letter that 12 business groups have signed, calling on chancellor Philip Hammond to fix the “broken” business rating system.
The signatories include Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, Alan Hawkins, chief executive of the British Independent Retailers Association, Martin McTague, national policy director of the Federation of Small Business and Josh Hardie, deputy director general of the Confederation of British Industry, alongside ACS chief executive James Lowman and others.
They say the rating system is at “tipping point” following confirmation of September’s Retail Price Index at 3.9%, which will lead to a £1.1bn increase in business rates from next year.
“We ask that you please take action to alleviate this damaging increase,” states the letter.
“This increase will discourage growth and investment just as businesses make consequential decisions in preparation of departing the European Union.”
They point out that the business rates system does not take account of the success of a firm or the performance of the economy.
And although Hammond had committed to Consumer Price Index indexation from 2020 and more frequent revaluations, it was “critical” more was done in the immediate term to prevent a £1.1bn increase in business rates.
“Let there be no doubt, this sharp increase will have a negative impact on business investment,” the letter continues.
“What is abundantly clear is that when the UK’s commercial property tax is far higher than elsewhere in Europe and across the OECD [The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development] it places British business at a distinct disadvantage.”
Lowman, in a separate statement, said the business rates system was in an urgent need of review to ensure the system was fairer for everyone and that businesses were not unnecessarily penalised for investing and improving their offer to customers.
“We are urging the chancellor to reform the rates system so that it incentivises investment and removes the threat of significant annual increases like the one scheduled for April 2018.”