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BRC calls for three-year business rate freeze citing tax as “not fit for purpose”

The British Retail Consortium has stepped up its battle against business rates, calling for a three-year freeze on increases.

The group said that the retail industry “shoulders far more than its fair share” of rates bills and that the tax was “leading to store closures.”

The BRC has now called for the government to freeze rates rises until 2021 to allow for the ‘reinvention’ and modernisation of retailers at a crucial time. It arrives as the UK suffers from the loss of 2,500 retail stores over the last three years.

Retail is responsible for the nearly 25 per cent of the UK’s business rates bills, around £7 billion per year. The Retail Gazette notes that this is despite the sector only making up five per cent of the total economy.

“The current business rates system is not fit for purpose,” BRC chief executive Helen Dickson said.

“It is a 20 century answer to a 21 century problem. Retail shoulders far more than its fair share, and the rates bill is leading to store closures and getting in the way of reinvention of our high streets.

‘The BRC is calling on government to freeze business rates until the 2021 revaluation to relive the burden of this unfair tax on retail businesses and allow time for dialogue about the wholesale modernisation of business taxation.

“This would be welcome government support for the country’s largest private sector employer at a critical time.”

Leaders across the retail industry and the government have vocally opposed the business rates tax, including shadow business secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey who accused the government of creating a ‘recipe for complete high street annihilation.”

Tesco’s Dave Lewis and The Entertainer’s Gary Grant are among those to have flagged the tax for damaging retail.  

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