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The letter highlights concerns over the scheduled business rates increase of 3.9 per cent in April 2018 set as a result of the Retail Prices Index reaching that level in September of this year, noting that overall the increase will amount to around £1.1bn more being paid by UK businesses. The 3.9 per cent annual increase is the highest since 2012.
The Government has previously committed to moving to the Consumer Prices Index to set rates increases by 2020, and has committed in its 2017 manifesto document to ‘make longer term reforms to the system to address concerns about the way it currently works’. However, the letter calls for urgent action, a full review, and consideration of the implications of April’s rates increase.
James Lowman, chief executive of the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) said, “The business rates system is in urgent need of review to ensure that the system is fairer for everyone and that businesses are not unnecessarily penalised for investing and improving their offer to customers. We are urging the Chancellor to reform the rates system so that it incentivises investment and removes the threat of significant annual increases like the one scheduled for April 2018.”
In its submission to the Budget, ACS has called on the Chancellor to take the following action on business rates:
• Clarify the timetable for 100% funding of rural rate relief and the change in indexation from RPI to CPI
• Review the rating for properties not based on rental values such as petrol forecourts and free to use ATMs
• Deliver more frequent revaluations of rates bills
• Restructure the business rates system to incentivise investment
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