More than 50 British businesses including Greggs and Pret A Manger have put pressure on the newly appointed chancellor of the exchequer to reform business rates.
In a joint letter signed some of the biggest names on UK high streets, Sajid Javid has been urged to freeze the rates multiplier, fix transitional relief – which they say can see operators pay more than necessary – introduce improvement relief and ensure the Valuation Office Agency, which processes appeals, is fully resourced.
Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, said: “These four fixes would be an important step to reform the broken business rates system that holds back investment, threatens jobs and harms our high streets.
“The new government has an opportunity to unlock the full potential of retail in the UK, and the prime minister’s economic package provides a means to do so.
“The fact that over 50 retail CEOs have come together on this issue should send a powerful message to government. Retail accounts for 5% of the economy yet pays 25% of all business rates – this disparity is damaging our high streets and harming the communities they support.”
Javid has previously faced criticism for his handling of business rates.
While serving as communities secretary in 2017, he saw off a revolt from Conservative MPs concerned about rises – telling them most firms would not experience any rise in their bills, and that rates would fall in 250 of the 329 billing authority areas in England.
Rates in fact rose in 191 and fell in just 135, while overall bills rose by as much as 5%-7%.