Fashion retailers call for rate reform

Wednesday, 17 September 2014
A number of fashion retailers including Debenhams, John Lewis, Karen Millen, and Marks and Spencer have signed an open-letter calling for political parties to commit to a “fundamental reform” of the business rates system.
More than 100 organisations from the retail, manufacturing , property, hospital and service industries, ranging from FTSE 100 companies to SMEs, have signed the open-letter coordinated by the British Retail Consortium to put pressure on Westminster to overhaul the method of calculating and collecting rates.

The BRC state that the system is “no longer fit for purpose” and that a review is needed to protect businesses, and it is hoping that with more than 100 businesses coming together that they can highlight the issue and urge political parties to commit to a review before next year’s general election.

The letter appeared as a full page advert in The Daily Telegraph and claims that the UK’s business rates are higher than property taxes anywhere else in Europe. It added that the current system was holding businesses across a range of sectors back and that a “modern, sustainable and transparent system would unleash investment” that could expand businesses into local communities and support other industrial investment.

Fashion retailers call for a “fundamental reform” of business rates

Helen Dickinson, director general of the British Retail Consortium, said: "Today's open letter proposes that the political parties should make a commitment to look at deeper reform of business rates if they form the next government after the election.

“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."

The letter has also been backed by shopping centre owners including Westfield, Intu and Land Securities, as well as other fashion retailers such as Fenwick, Ann Summers, Mothercare, and New Look, and organisations like the Federation of Small Businesses, the New West End Company, the British Council of Shopping Centres, and the Forum of Private Business.

Image: BRC open-letter advert

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