Measures to revive the declining high street should be high on MPs‘ agendas in 2013, retailers have argued.
As recent figures revealed that the empty shops rate in town centres is at a record high of 11.3 per cent, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) has called upon MPs to listen to local business and help halt high street decline.
Commenting on the importance of the high street, BRC Director General, Helen Dickinson, said: “MPs understand that high streets are focal points for communities and essential to local economies.
“But many high streets are facing a real endurance test in these challenging times, and rising operating costs are making matters worse.”
Figures released by Deloitte today showed that the number of companies falling into administration in 2012 had increased by six per cent year on year and two thirds of MPs believe that high streets in their constituency have seen noticeable decline in the past five years, according to a recent poll.
The BRC has suggested that the top priority for MPs should be to take action against the 2.6 per cent increase in business rates proposed for 2013.
In a joint campaign with industry magazine Retail Week, Fair Rates for Retail, the BRC is fighting for a freeze on business rates and a fairer formula for calculating future rate increases.
Business rates have seen an increase of more than ten per cent over the last two years, and the BRC fears that a further rise would deter investment and job creation, causing more problems for the already struggling high street.
Ms Dickinson added: “The Autumn Statement didn‘t include a pledge to freeze business rates next year, but there‘s still time for the government to do the right thing.
“Another steep rise would pose a serious threat to vulnerable town centres and mean fewer jobs, especially for young people.
“Two thirds of MPs have already told us that they support a rates freeze next year – I urge them to keep pushing for change if they want to breathe life back into our town centres and preserve and protect local businesses.”