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9 business groups have signed a letter to the chancellor demanding reform of business rate tax system

UK Business Groups Demand Shake-up of Business Rates

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Industry leaders have demanded that the UK government introduce sweeping changes to business rates in the upcoming budget in letter to new UK Chancellor, Rishi Sunak

Business Rates in the UK have long been considered not fit for purpose, pushing small companies into the red and forcing many off the high street. In fact, it has long been argued that the system is targeting “bricks and mortar” enterprises while giving online retailers such as Amazon an unfair advantage.

UK high streets have been under pressure from online retailers, many of whom are based overseas, paying little to no UK tax and able outcompete traditional retailers on price. This, combined with high business rates and parking restrictions putting shoppers off, has turned city centres up and down the country into ghost towns.

With retailers now struggling from a fresh onslaught from the COVID-19 outbreak, organisations – which include the Association of Convenience Stores, British Chambers of Commerce, British Property Federation and Federation of Small Businesses – want an end to higher bills for companies who refurbish their sites and a complete scrapping of rates for smaller firms.

Fifty of the UK’s leading hospitality bosses have also signed a separate letter by industry group UKHospitality criticising the impact of a “broken and archaic” business rates system on the sector.

Business rates raise £31 billion for the Treasury each year, and groups say the smallest firms should not pay the tax at all, to support start-ups.

There is a consensus across all sectors that the current tax system is not working fairly, and that there needs to be a move away from business rates

Letter to Chancellor

Adam Marshall, director-general of the BCC, said: 

‘It’s time for the Government to deliver on its manifesto pledge to review and reduce business rates so firms can invest in their people and prospects instead.’

The letter emphasized that the economy is changing and business rates must change too. Furthermore, the government must instead “look across the whole range of business taxes to spread the burden more equitably”, pointing out that the current system penalises investment by businesses seeking to increase productivity.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak is set to deliver his first budget next week. There is a lot of anticipation at the government’s plan to reset the economy following 10 years of crippling austerity and the impending departure from the EU.

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