Retailers across the UK have necessitated talks with the Government about its proposed review of business rates. Concerns surround the decision and its pledge to be what has been quoted as “fiscally neutral”.
The British Retail Consortium, and other notable business groups such as the CBI, the British Chambers of Commerce, and the Federation of Small Businesses, will be meeting David Gauke, the Financial Secretary to the Treasury some time in January to discuss the review of rates.
The implications are that any reforms won’t affect the amount that business rates generate for the Treasury, and that the Treasury’s approach will mean there is no substantial overhaul of the tax.
Helen Dickinson, Director General at the BRC, said:
“The high street plays a key role in our economy and the Government review of the structure of business rates is a very positive step towards addressing the barriers to future growth and development. A big question for business rates payers will be the definition of fiscal neutrality within the review and whether that’s within the current confines of business rates or more broadly across all taxes, and how it accounts for the recent adjustments to total income through special reliefs.
“We would favour as broad a definition as possible to enable real flexibility as the review moves forward.”
After intense pressure from business leaders to overhaul the tax, George Osborne announced the review of business rates in the December Autumn Statement last year. Upon closer look, small print revealed that any changes to the tax would be “fiscally neutral” and “consistent with the Government’s agreed financing of local authorities”.