Research Report Spotlight – Reform Business Rates

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Research Report Spotlight – Reform Business Rates

Vivienne King, Head of Real Estate Social Impact, The Good Economy | Revo Operating Board Member | Sustainability Committee Member | Chair of the Shopkeepers’ Campaign

Should we be surprised, that despite the changes to transition relief announced in the 2022 Autumn Statement, business rates continue to present a major challenge to our town and city centres?

With over a third of respondents continuing to place it in the top 3 challenges and the most pressing action for Government intervention, that is a clear signal of the scale of the challenge the system represents and a shout-out for urgent reform. So why is more not being done to reform it?

The Conservatives were elected in 2019 on a promise to “cut the burden of tax by reducing business rates.” We are now one year away from the next General Election and there has been no giant leap to change.

The Government has taken baby steps in terms of reform to keep the system from collapsing in on itself. The announcements from the Autumn Statement were positive ones from a business rates perspective, but while a £13.6bn Exchequer-funded scheme was certainly welcome, it can be easy to forget that all this has done is correct a punitive relief that never should have existed in the first place.

At 51p in the pound, the Uniform Business Rate (UBR) is far too high a tax. Instead of reducing it as promised, the Government has opted to employ a series of sticking plaster reliefs to prop up a shuddering house of cards.

Revo supports the Shopkeepers’ Campaign call for the UBR to be lowered to 30p for retail. This would help reduce the barriers to entry, expansion and innovation for retailers, encouraging growth and broadening the tax base. It will also eliminate the need for the complex system of reliefs which are so hard to navigate, because bills would no longer penalise rate-paying businesses – particularly those on moderate performance.

If more bricks-and-mortar businesses were encouraged onto our high streets, without the risk of a penal level of property tax, it would support their renaissance and increase the tax pool for the Treasury. Everyone’s a winner!

Want to know more?

Access the full report here.