Retailers are celebrating a new legal requirement for councils to poll businesses before introducing Business Rate Supplements (BRS).

The Government’s Localism Bill includes an obligation on English local authorities outside London to gain a majority vote from businesses before any BRS is introduced. 

Since 2010 councils have had the power to add up to five per cent to businesses’ rates bills to fund local infrastrcture projects. The British Retail Consortium (BRC) had feared that BRS could be applied without business support.

BRC director general Stephen Robertson said: “Compulsory business ballots are a major victory for the BRC on behalf of vulnerable retailers big and small. It would be fundamentally undemocratic to put extra taxes on local businesses without establishing their views and assessing the potential impact on jobs.”

Figures compiled for the BRC show that retailers in Reading alone could have faced £1m of extra tax. “Now that cannot be introduced without their agreement,” Roberston said.