The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) has welcomed commitments from all the major political parties in England and Wales to reform the business rates system.
Property costs are among the largest costs faced by retailers and one-in-three retailers are paying increased rates since the revaluation. Additionally, only 39 out of 326 local authorities have provided discretionary rate relief to local businesses using powers contained in the Localism Act.
The key commitments made by the major parties are:
• Labour: “[We will] introduce a package of reforms to business rates – including switching from RPI to CPI indexation, exempting new investment in plant and machinery from valuations, and ensuring that businesses have access to a proper appeals process – while reviewing the entire business rates system in the longer run.”
• Liberal Democrats: “Reviewing the Business Rates system, prioritising reforms that recognise the development of the digital economy, lessening the burden on smaller businesses, and ensuring high streets remain competitive. We will also consider the implementation of Land Value Taxation.”
• Conservatives: “We will make sure that revaluations are conducted more frequently to avoid large changes to the bills that businesses face, and explore the introduction of self-assessments in the valuation process. To ensure the system is sustainable for the future we will also conduct a full review of the business rates system to make sure it is up to date for a world in which people increasingly shop online.”
• Plaid Cymru: “Plaid Cymru will put an end to the unfair business rates system, by moving towards a turnover-based system.”
ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “We have been campaigning for many years for proper reform of a business rates system that is out of date, costly and unfair for thousands of local shops and other small businesses.
“We welcome the commitments from the major party manifestos on reforming the business rates system, and will work closely with the next Government to ensure that there is an effective and long-lasting approach to setting business rates that promotes high streets, incentivises investment and better reflects changes in the business property market so that everyone pays their fair share.”