More than 40 business organisations – including many retailers and retail groups – have joined forces with the Mayor of London in “united and unprecedented” opposition against the current system of business rates.
The alliance, which includes the London Chamber of Commerce, Federation of Small Businesses London and the New West End Company, is calling for a full review of the effectiveness of the rates system, together with more realistic transitional relief proposals and mitigating proposals to enable London businesses to generate the income needed to meet the rates rise.
The formation of the lobby group comes just weeks after New West End Company chairman Sir Peter Rogers said current proposals were “extremely disappointing” and would be “catastrophic” for London businesses.
London businesses are facing the possibility of an estimated £885 million annual increase in business rates, with some districts anticipating a 150 per cent rise – a figure reportedly hidden by the government’s official line which states the average hike is 11 per cent across the capital.
The alliance argues that the risk of such a large tax increase, with just six months’ notice to prepare for it, will lead to a slowing of investment, job creation and profitability for business at a time when confidence and stability are needed more than ever.
It also believes businesses of all types will find it difficult to grow or even to survive, having a negative impact on the rest of the country in terms of supply chain, jobs and direct investment.
“The recent developments in the government’s revaluation of business rates have called into question the very suitability of the business rates system,” Rogers said.
“This should be the last time a 20th century system is inflicted on businesses across London.
“2016 has seen the government deliver a series of setbacks to the West End retail sector – beginning with the rejection of crucial proposals to modernise the law on Sunday trading in March and now with this crippling revaluation of business rates.
“We are urging the Chancellor to kick-start an overhaul of the revaluation system and seriously consider measures such as annual revaluations and the possibility of separating London from the national system to ensure our capital is protected for the future.”