Coronavirus: High streets to continue struggling next year, retailers warn

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Covid-19 lockdown HMRC Rishi Sunak
Chancellor Rishi Sunak's budget includes plans for a £22 billion support package through grants and a business rates holiday
// High streets will struggle if a new rule on business rates is allowed to pass through parliament unchanged
// Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the tri-annual revaluation by HMRC officials, which took place in April 2019, may now be out of date

The UK’s high streets are expected to continue struggling next year if a new rule on business rates is allowed to pass through parliament unchanged, retailers have warned.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s budget includes plans for a £22 billion support package through grants and a business rates holiday.

He has also committed to a review of the system, following pressure from retailers to overhaul the commercial property tax.


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However, retailers are apprehensive that due to the coronavirus pandemic, the tri-annual revaluation by HMRC officials, which took place in April 2019, is now out of date.

The Non-Domestic Rating (Lists) Bill was introduced in the House of Lords by the government on March 18 and is currently due for a second reading.

The tax is calculated based partly on the rental values on each property, but with an expected 20,000 sites predicted to close permanently after the lockdown, retailers are woeful that the new rates bills for those left will be high.

“The current proposal would be disastrous for all businesses that pay non-domestic rates,” British Independent Retailers Association chief executive Andrew Goodacre said.

“We must have the reference point for determining future rates bills at a time post-coronavirus, so they are an accurate assessment taking into account the full impact once this crisis has passed.”

Since the lockdown was implemented last month, the government has given a business rates holiday to retailers and other businesses in a bid to ease the burden on overheads.

However, some retailers that remain open have faced criticism for accepting a rates holiday from the government at the same time as handing out dividends to shareholders.

In other news, once the lockdown is lifted, the UK may face a lengthy recession as very few people are expected to go back to their pre-coronavirus habits.

According to a survey by Retail Economics, one in 10 consumers are planning to resume spending and travelling as they did before, if restrictions ease off early next month.

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