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BRC: 70% of retail CEO's say rate increases would hit stores and jobs

On the day that the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and the TaxPayers' Alliance team up to offer people a new way to lobby their MPs on the issue, a snapshot survey of retail chief executives shows nearly three quarters believe another large business rates increase next April would affect jobs and store numbers.

Business rates rose dramatically in both 2011 (4.6 per cent) and 2012 (5.6 per cent), adding more than half a billion pounds to retailers' rates bills. They are now threatened with a further 2.6 per cent increase which would hit them with £175 million in extra costs.

The chief executives of BRC-member retailers employing 894,000 people across 12,000 stores, and representing 32 per cent of the UK's annual £303 billion retail market, were asked about the impact a rates rise on that scale would have.

Seventy per cent said it would force them to cut back on job creation and investment in new or existing stores. Fifteen per cent said it would even force them to close stores.

The BRC is today (Monday) stepping up its campaign (run with leading industry publication Retail Week) for a business rates freeze by joining with the TaxPayers' Alliance to urge people to ask their own MP for support.

Anyone concerned about the potential damage that would be caused to businesses and jobs can use: www.FreezeBusinessRates.org to identify and write to their local MP.

British Retail Consortium Director General Stephen Robertson said: "MPs who care about their constituencies will recognise the importance of their high streets and the need to take action to prevent more shops falling empty. They will want to avoid the blow to investment and job creation that chief executives tell us would come from a third successive huge hike in business rates.

"I urge MPs of all parties to encourage the Chancellor to recognise that retail has already paid more than its fair share in recent years and to freeze business rates in 2013.

"The Government should also honour its commitment to review the mechanism for setting rates increases and introduce a fairer, more sustainable formula for the future."

Matthew Sinclair, Chief Executive of the TaxPayers' Alliance, said: "Britain's high streets have been suffering in recent years and excessive business rates make it much harder for stores to survive and prosper. Businesses of all kinds struggle with rates as they are a major bill that they have to pay in good times and bad, whether or not they are making the money to pay it. Freezing business rates would be a great way of letting firms grow, prosper and create new jobs.

"At the TaxPayers' Alliance, we are very excited to be working with the British Retail Consortium to make the case that business rates should be frozen. High taxes are getting in the way of economic growth and a freeze is a reasonable proposal to help companies fighting their way out of the recession. Hopefully direct pressure from their constituents will encourage MPs to back action for lower rates.

"If MPs want to show that they are on the side of small businesses in their area, backing a freeze in business rates is a great way to do it."

Notes to Editors:

The BRC / TaxPayers' Alliance 'Contact your MP' website is at: www.FreezeBusinessRates.org

There is also BRC/Retail Week Fair Rates for Retail petition at: https://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/the-government-freeze-business-rates-at-current-level-and-change-how-rates-are-determined

Source : Stephen Robertson - Director General, British Retail Consortium
www.brc.org.uk/brc_news_detail.asp?id=2319

05 November 2012
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