Retailers across the country are bracing themselves for a dramatic fluctuation in their Business Rates bills when a new system for assessing rateable values is implemented in April 2010.

The rateable value of all England’s business premises will now be based on property values - a fact which could lead to substantial increases, or potentially decreases, in the bills that retailers are forced to pay. Retailers are due to find out by exactly how much their business rates bills will change this week.

Deeply concerned

Retailers attending this year’s C-Store Champions Lunch were deeply concerned by the change.

Londis retailer Sunder Sandher said an increase in bills was the last thing retailers needed in the difficult economic climate. “There is a lot of confusion about this issue, and we don’t know which way it is going to swing,” he said.

“This will certainly create a big hoo-ha,” added fellow Londis retailer Raj Aggarwal. “If bills do go up dramatically we will have to lobby MPs.”

The government says it will help cushion the blow for businesses facing a significant fluctuation in bills by introducing a transitional arrangement. This would mean that the new rate, be it higher or lower, is gradually introduced over five years.