Published on 12 - January - 2009
Retailers call for tax relief as business rates soar to £7bn by 2010The British Retail Consortium (BRC) concerned that empty property tax could add to woes of struggling retailers.
With the second reading of the Business Rate Supplements Bill due to take place today, the BRC has published a study showing that annual increases, business rates revaluation and loss of empty property relief could add as much as £1.6bn to the £5.45bn business rates paid by retailers in 2007/2008.
According to the UK trade association, the figure equates to the average salaries of over 100,000 retail employees.
Its research also shows that the retail sector is more property dependent than other businesses is and is therefore more exposed and sensitive to increases in property costs.
As a result, the BRC is calling for 'an immediate freeze' on all new business rates and the reinstatement of empty property relief.
The BRC's director general, Stephen Robertson said: "Many retailers are struggling with the triple whammy of falling sales, crushed margins and rising costs. The Government must revise its plans to impose a range of extra burdens, which can only increase the pressure on retailers and destroy more of the UK's three million retail jobs."
He added: "Retailers are crucial to livelihoods, customers and communities. We don't expect handouts but we don't want further handicaps."
The BRC believes the Government needs to take steps to help ailing retail businesses. Among these is the reintroduction of 50% tax relief on empty property, which was abolished in April 2008 and costs retailers up to £115m a year.
It also said that the Government should not implement any business rates in April 2009 and postpone its business rates revaluation, which, using April 2008 rental values as a basis for rates from April 2010, the trade association feels is unjust and would cost retailers an extra £900m in 2010/2011.
Finally, the BRC asks that the Government ensures safeguards are in place, including a compulsory business vote, before any new business rate supplement is introduced.
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