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70% of retail CEOs say business rate rise would affect stores and jobs

The British Retail Consortium has released figures which show that nearly three quarters of retail chief executives believe that another large business rates increase next April would affect jobs and store numbers.

GENERAL MERCHANDISE

70% of retail CEOs say business rate rise would affect stores and jobs

The organisation is campaigning against a potential 2.6% rise in business rates next year which it claims will hit retailers with £175 million in extra costs. It is urging the government to think again about a rates rise in light of the fact that business rates have already increased by 4.6% and 5.6% in 2011 and 2012.

The chief executives of BRC-member retailers which employ 894,000 people across 12,000 stores and represent 32% of the UK's annual £303 billion retail market, were asked about the impact a 2.6% rates rise would have.

A total of 70% of those surveyed said the rise would force them to cut back on job creation and investment in new or existing stores, while 15% went as far as to say it would result store closures.

BRC director general Stephen Robertson said: "MPs who care about their constituencies will recognise the importance of their high streets and the need to take action to prevent more shops falling empty. They will want to avoid the blow to investment and job creation that chief executives tell us would come from a third successive huge hike in business rates.

"I urge MPs of all parties to encourage the Chancellor to recognise that retail has already paid more than its fair share in recent years and to freeze business rates in 2013.

"The government should also honour its commitment to review the mechanism for setting rates increases and introduce a fairer, more sustainable formula for the future."

The BRC has stepped up its campaign to persuade the goverment to introduce a rates freeze by teaming up with the Tax Payers' Alliance to urge people to ask their own MP for support.

Matthew Sinclair, chief Executive of the Tax Payers' Alliance, added: "Britain's high streets have been suffering in recent years and excessive business rates make it much harder for stores to survive and prosper.  Freezing business rates would be a great way of letting firms grow, prosper and create new jobs.

"At the Tax Payers' Alliance, we are very excited to be working with the British Retail Consortium to make the case that business rates should be frozen."

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