Business rates rise threatens future of high streets

By Amelie Maurice-Jones

- Last updated on GMT

Gov help: Organisations call for business rates freeze (Credit: Getty/simarik)
Gov help: Organisations call for business rates freeze (Credit: Getty/simarik)

Related tags Legislation

UKHospitality (UKH) and other trade bodies have written to the chancellor urging him to freeze the business rates multiplies and extend existing reliefs in the Autumn Statement.

The organisations warned the future of Britain’s high streets is at risk without the measures.

The inflation-linked increase to the business rates multiplier will cost hospitality businesses £234m.

A recent survey of UKHospitality members showed that 66% of businesses would reduce investment, 61% would raise prices and 41% would reduce opening hours if rates relief was removed.

The letter said: “An inflationary increase in the business rates multiplier and removal of reliefs would be disastrous for our sectors. It will mean business failures, job losses and boarded up properties in our high streets, denying people their livelihoods and their social pleasures.”

Potential lifeline

UKH chief executive Kate Nicholls said freezing rates and extending relief would be a “lifeline” for a sector that simply could not absorb any more costs.

She said inaction will leave hospitality businesses with no choice but to put up prices, open less, or, in the worst-case scenario, shut their doors for good.

She added: “Pubs, restaurants, cafes and hotels, to name a few, act as pillars of their communities and they want to continue in that central role, as well as driving economic growth and providing countless jobs. Action on business rates at the Autumn Statement is critical to that.”

Business rates burden

The letter was also signed by British Retail Consortium, Association of Convenience Stores, British Independent Retail Association and ukactive.

Together, these sectors pay more than £10bn in business rates a year.

Altus Group global president of property tax Alex Probyn previously told The Morning Advertiser:​ “The chancellor must not only set stringent targets for the clearance of tens of thousands of outstanding ‘challenges’ to facilitate the return of years of overpayments but also permanently end the policy of increasing tax rates by inflation while maintaining the discount.

“Our clients tell us that the business rates burden is a disincentive to invest and are already at an unsustainable level.”

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