Budget changes to business rates not enough – Argos CEO

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Argos budget

The chief executive of Argos has criticised Chancellor Philip Hammond for failing to reform “not fit for purpose” business rates in this week’s Budget.

John Rogers told the Press Association that the changes Hammond announced on Wednesday were just “tinkering around the edges” and did not go far enough.

He highlighted how the controversial revaluation of business rates earlier this year, which accounted for property price changes over the last seven years, has already seen thousands of retailers hit with surging costs.

Rogers added he was “disappointed” in Hammond’s offer of a reprieve which included cutting the length of time between revaluations to three years.

Hammond also said he would bring forward switching to the Consumer Prices Index (CPI) from the Retail Price Index (RPI) by two years, now set for April 2018.

Business rates rises used to be set in line with the August RPI rate of inflation from the Office for National Statistics. The rates were due to uprate by 3.9 per cent next spring, but now they will rise three per cent in line with the lower CPI.

This would reportedly save businesses £2.3 billion over five years.

“There needs to be a full reform of business rates – a business tax that’s based on property ownership is not fit for purpose,” Rogers said.

He added: “Tinkering around the edges is just not sufficient.”

Rogers said an overhauled business rates system must factor in how businesses are now becoming increasingly digital, such as how 60 per cent of Argos’ sales are made online.

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