Since the announcement of a fundamental review of business rates by government last year, we have been putting together a series of proposals to make the business rates system fairer for local shops.
While the review is a great opportunity, there will be winners and losers and it’s our job to explain why local shops should be net beneficiaries.
How do we think we can achieve this? First, we want to see the smallest retailers taken out of the system altogether. Second, we need to incentivise investment; the current system gives you a higher rates bill if you have increased the value of your store. Third, we need a complete overhaul of the separate schemes that give disproportionately high rates bills for ATMs and forecourts.
We also need valuations every three years so that bills more accurately reflect changes in property values. Alongside this, we need the total income generated for government by business rates to flex with the economic circumstances like every other tax, rather than being guaranteed to move every year with inflation.
We have taken our case to ministers across a number of departments, including small business minister Anna Soubry, treasury minister David Gauke and high streets minister Marcus Jones, and have been working closely with other business groups to present a united voice. The next milestone be the Budget on 8 July – we will be watching closely to see if the Chancellor gives any indication of the direction the review is taking.
The government has set itself a big task; now we need to see their pre-election pro-business rhetoric turn into action.