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Retail industry appoints EY in business rates review

THE BRITISH RETAIL CONSORTIUM has appointed EY to review the UK’s business rates regime as it seeks to reform the system.

It is hoped it will produce recommendations for changes to business rates that will contribute to UK economic growth and reinvigorate high streets and town centres across the country.

Ed Miliband pledged at the Labour Party’s recent conference that a cut in rates was due, noting the country had “too long supported some businesses and not others”, in what some interpreted as a swipe at multinationals’ tax affairs.

The Forum for Private Business yesterday lent its voice to the cause, calling for the chancellor to slash rates in his Autumn Statement, due to take place 4 December.

“97% of FPB members believe property taxation is too high. In fact, in many areas of the country, business rates are now substantially more than rental costs,” it said in its submission to the Treasury.

It added: “Businesses are often reluctant to pay rates because they do not readily see the benefits of where that money goes.”

British Retail Consortium director-general Helen Dickinson said: “At the BRC we have been saying for some time that tinkering with the existing business rates system, which is no longer fit for purpose, is not the answer. Complete reform is the only solution that can support retailers in continuing to deliver a vibrant and sustainable retail industry for UK consumers and local communities.

“I am excited to be able to announce that we have appointed EY to work with us, building on our existing work to date. They have a proven track record in helping businesses and governments work through complex challenges where the solutions are not obvious. While there are ideas for rates changes already in the public arena, we believe there are other options not yet considered and none have been subject to robust economic impact assessment.”

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