Experts fear any changes unlikely to be in time to stem distress on the high street
News that the Treasury Committee is today launching a new inquiry into Business Rates to scrutinise how Government policy has impacted on business is welcomed with caution by business rates experts at Colliers International.
John Webber, Head of Business Rates said, “Obviously any review that tries to stem the current carnage on the high street is welcome. However, this does feel like loud banging on the stable door long after the horse has galloped off down the street.”
“As we have long been saying, the current business rates regime needs a roots and branches reform: regular revaluations, a proper review of reliefs, a sensible multiplier, a reform of the appeals system (which ground to a halt in 2017) and a properly funded valuation office, as well as some immediate action- to freeze rates rises this year and to remove the downwards transition, that is strangling many of the provincial retail stores, who are paying higher rates than they should be.
But whatever review takes place, if the Government insists on raising the same amount of money by the same group of people (Over £7 bn of the £27bn of business rates taken are paid by the retail sector), then we will be no further forward.”
“In many ways it is too late for many of the hundreds of store closures and thousands of jobs lost that we have already see – and this pattern will only continue until something drastic is done quickly. The system needs action NOW.
“I suppose the one good thing is that, this is at last an admission by the Government that what it has been doing over business rates in the last nine years has desperately failed. However, whether anything it suggests will change things in time is unlikely. My fear is that in the next 4 to 6 weeks when the new rate bills drop through the letter box, demanding even further increases, it will be the end of the road for many businesses. All too little and all too late I am afraid.“