The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) has called on the government to outline its plan for meaningful business rates reform and reinstate the Retail Rate Relief scheme as business rates income reaches record levels.
The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG ) released figures claiming that business rates income has reached £23.5bn, raising an extra £400m compared to a year ago.
ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “We are disappointed that the Government has chosen to herald the increase in business rates income it receives. Sadly, this number is set to be even higher as Government scraps the £1,500 retail rate relief scheme which gave businesses crucial help in what remains a difficult time for high streets. The Chancellor must reconsider this.
“As other sources of council funding are cut; business rates have become a cash cow for local authorities. Many of these businesses are struggling to cope with the burden of business rates. We’ve urged councils to use more discretionary rate relief powers and for government to make fundamental changes to the system.
“Discretionary rate relief is vastly underused, so as local authorities gain further control of rates they should be incentivising investment and encouraging high street businesses instead of focusing on revenue generation.”
Figures from DCLG have shown that Discretionary Rate Relief issued by local authorities for retail premises will drop by over 50% from £284m to £137m.