Organisations representing thousands of businesses have written to the Chancellor, called on him to push ahead with business rates reform in the Budget on March 11.
In a letter to Chancellor Rishi Sunak, organisations including the Association of Convenience Stores, British Chambers of Commerce, British Property Federation and Federation of Small Businesses have set out four simple principles that would ensure that business rates are fairer, more accurate and fit for purpose in the future.
The four principles set out in the letter are:
• remove the requirement for business rates to be fiscally neutral to allow for more flexibility in the system;
• businesses that invest in and modernise their business premises must not be penalised immediately with higher rates bills;
• make the system simpler and reduce the burden on the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) by removing the smallest businesses from the rating list altogether;
• Ensure that businesses are confident in the accuracy of their rates bills by reviewing the inefficient Check, Challenge, Appeal system – and ensure that the VOA is sufficiently resourced to deliver valuations and support ratepayers.
Association of Convenience Stores chief executive James Lowman said: “We have set out four simple principles that will give a much-needed boost to British businesses, and urge the Chancellor to take these principles forward as part of his first Budget on March 11. The debate on business rates has gone on long enough without action to address the flaws in the system. This letter is clear that without reform, the current system is no longer fit for purpose.”