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Firms call for business rates reform

More than 100 of Britain's biggest businesses have called on political parties to reform the business rates system.

The group of 107 businesses said the current system is "no longer fit for purpose" in an open letter calling on the 3 main political parties to commit to "fundamental reform" at the next general election.

The British Retail Consortium (BRC), which coordinated the action, said British businesses pay the highest property taxes in Europe.

"A modern, sustainable and transparent system would unleash investment that could bring skilled and entry level jobs and new and expanded businesses into our local communities," the letter said.

Helen Dickinson, director general of the BRC, said:

"The sheer breadth of industries represented shows the strength of our collective belief that the existing system is no longer fit for purpose and that we will support the work of a future government to carry out reforms so that we can all play our part in growing the UK economy."

In March this year, the Business, Innovation and Skills Committee urged the government to address "fundamental flaws" in the business rates system.

A report by the committee of MPs called for:

  • a 6 month business rates amnesty for firms using empty properties
  • a review on whether rates should be linked to CPI or RPI averages
  • annual increase to be linked to 12 month RPI and CPI averages, with a 2% cap.

Adrian Bailey, chair of the Committee, called business rates the "single biggest threat to the survival of retail businesses on the high street."

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