Calls for business rates freeze after new inflation figures threaten misery on the high street

The British Retail Consortium has called for a business rates freeze following the release of the latest inflation figures.

The publication of the latest ONS Retail Price Inflation (RPI) figure, which revealed that inflation in September stood at just under four per cent. September’s RPI rate will be used to determine the uplift in business rates next April.

The BRC have warned that without intervention to freeze business rates from Government retailers and other firms will face a rates rise twice as large as last year. This will hit retailers alone with an extra £270 million in tax next April.

Helen Dickinson OBE, BRC chief executive, said: “The consequences of today’s RPI figures could be severe for many shops in a precarious position and struggling to survive. Consumers, already seeing household incomes eroded, will face further misery as the pound in their pocket buys them less at the checkout.

“For retailers this will be compounded if UK Ministers fail to act and stem the hefty near four per cent rise in business rates, which is set to add an extra quarter of a billion pounds to retailers’ already unreasonable business rates burden.

“For many shops this may be the last straw. Across the country, especially in economically deprived and vulnerable communities, the cost of failing to take action will likely be seen in yet more empty shops and gap-toothed high streets.

“There are also other risks. Those shops who continue to trade may look to pass this extra rates cost onto hard-pressed consumers.

“Ministers’ mustn’t bury their heads in the sand. In his Budget next month, the Chancellor needs to get a grip on the matter and rule out a rise in business rates to help save shops, protect jobs, and preserve high streets.”

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