BRC announce business rates reform plans

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The British Retail Consortium (BRC) has today unveiled its vision for the reform of business rates in the UK, ahead of the planned Discussion Document from the Chancellor, due later this spring. 

The report, entitled The Road to Reform, includes several options for the reform of business rates, including tax being based on alternative measures to property value, such as energy usage, and allowing discounted rates based on employment or Corporation tax paid. The report also recommends a modernisation of the existing system, with simplified valuation banding and more regular revaluation procedures. 

Helen Dickinson, BRC Director General, said: “We have a once in a generation chance to fundamentally change the business rates system and the time is right to think creatively and in the best long term economic interests of the UK. These potential options would be good for the public, the economy and businesses small and large, while still providing significant tax revenues for the Government. We now intend to analyse each one in more detail and very much hope that we will stimulate discussion that goes beyond tinkering with the existing system.”

John Rogers (Chief Financial Officer, J Sainsbury), who has chaired the group of executive level members from right across the industry leading the project for the BRC said: “The current system is outdated and cumbersome and does nothing to encourage retailers to invest. We believe we can do better for business and for tax payers and these options represent tangible progress in the debate on what reform could look like if we think about retail in the future, rather than the past.”

However, the outline has drawn criticism from certain quarters, with business rates tied to energy usage disproportionately challenging for manufacturers, while some high street campaigners have also criticised the BRC for failing to call for the date of the next revalutation of of rates to be brought forward from its delayed deadline of 2017.  

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