The British Retail Consortium has welcomed the chancellor’s decision to reduce business rates amid the coronavirus outbreak.
Responding to the Budget announcement by newly appointed Chancellor Rishi Sunak, Helen Dickinson OBE, chief executive of the BRC, acknowledged how the chancellor had listened to the retail industry.
She explained: “All of us benefit from a diversity of retailers, both big and small, in our local communities. This budget does little for larger retailers – offering a string of cost increases with no respite in the short term.
“However, on the upcoming review, the Chancellor has clearly listened to the retail industry and we welcome his recognition that the overall burden of business rates must fall.”
On the business rates decision specifically, she said: “The Chancellor has shown he is capable of making bold decisions, this will be critical to the upcoming review of the broken business rate system. We welcome the stated objectives of reducing the rates burden on business, something we have been calling for, and the inclusion of changes to transitional relief as an option to provide short-term relief from April 2021.
“It is vital that the burden is reduced for all retailers – large and small – if it is to promote further investment in productivity growth and higher skilled, better paid jobs. We hope this open-minded approach carries through to implementing positive changes once the review has concluded later this year.”
However, for larger retailers, the BRC hoped for the government to do more.
Dickinson continued: “Despite announcing his support for British business, the Chancellor has failed to provide any relief for larger retailers, who employ the majority of the industry’s 3 million workers and currently foot most of the industry’s £7.5bn business rates bill.”
Concluding: “In April, these retailers will face yet another rise in business rates across England, piling on even more pressure on shops at a time when they are squeezed by lower demand and increasing costs arising from coronavirus.”