The CEO at the British Independent Retailers Association (Bira) has welcomed pledges from the Conservatives that they would reduce business rates if re-elected.
Bira, which has been campaigning for a rate reduction for three years to offer what it calls a solution to the outdated and unfair rates system, has commented after the Conservative Party released a manifesto pledge ahead of the General Election, which proposed to address it.
Andrew Goodacre, CEO of Bira, commented: “The proposed 50 per cent reduction in business rates is a crucial and significant support for the high street and for small independent retail businesses. The average business rates for small independents are around £24,000 so the proposed reduction of 50 per cent is in line with our own proposal given to the Government.
“Whilst we wholeheartedly support the proposal and believe it will make the difference between survival or closure for small retailers, what we really need for long-term survival is the fundamental review of rates that has now been announced. It is in line with the findings of the Treasury Select Committee’s report on business rates that said plainly that the business rates system is broken. We look forward to working with the Government to ensure that a new system is effective and is implemented quickly for the benefit of business.”
Bira says it would also like to see more of a commitment to the high street from the other political parties and is committed to working with the future Government to keep the UK’s high streets vibrant and fit for the future.
The comments were made ahead of the Labour Party and the Conservative Party officially launching their manifestos. In the Liberal Democrat’s recently launched manifesto, it pledges to replace business rates in England with a Commercial Landowner Levy based solely on the land value of commercial sites, rather than their entire capital value, which, the party says, thereby stimulates investment, and shifts the burden of taxation from tenants to landowners.
In other Bira news, the organisation has expressed disappointment at an inquiry into rates reform.
While it said that some parts of the Government’s inquiry were to be welcomed, it added that it was disappointed with the recommendations for reform.
The report is clear about the current business rates system needing reform by removing complexities, incentivising investment and changing the Check Challenge Appeal process, which Bira agrees with. But Goodacre added: “It is clear that the committee has listened to the concerns of retailers about the effects the outdated system is having on business. However, we would like to have seen stronger recommendations for reform resulting in a reduction in the business rates burden on those businesses struggling the most.
“Hopefully the various political parties will include recommendations from this
report in the new election manifestos.”