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BRC steps up business rates fight with the appointment of EY

The British Retail Consortium has appointed tax experts EY to help it examine options for the reform of the controversial business rates system.

GENERAL MERCHANDISE

BRC steps up business rates fight with the appointment of EY

The accountancy firm, which was previously known as Ernst & Young, has been hired to conduct a review of the existing system and to help the BRC make recommendations for alternative systems that could be introduced by the Government.

The BRC said it would be encouraging retailers to get involved in the process as it takes shape over the coming months. The move follows the BRC’s warning last week that retailers will be hit with £175 million in extra costs if next year’s business rates increase is based on September’s Retail Price Index measure of inflation.

BRC director general Helen Dickinson said: “At the BRC we have been saying for some time that tinkering with the existing business rates system, which is no longer fit for purpose, is not the answer. Complete reform is the only solution that can support retailers in continuing to deliver a vibrant and sustainable retail industry for UK consumers and local communities.

“I am excited to be able to announce that we have appointed EY to work with us, building on our existing work to date. They have a proven track record in helping businesses and governments work through complex challenges where the solutions are not obvious. While there are ideas for rates changes already in the public arena, we believe there are other options not yet considered and none have been subject to robust economic impact assessment.

“Our work will be inclusive and open. I want to see retailers large and small, from right across our sector, getting involved as the debate on what reform could look like moves forward. And it won’t stop there; we know that other parts of the business community along with their respective trade associations share our passion to address this issue and we will be seeking their input and collaboration.”

Chris Sanger, global head of tax policy, EY, said: “Working with the BRC over the coming months, EY will be bringing our tax expertise to bear on the important issue of business rates. We will be advising the BRC on possible solutions that could bring huge benefits to the UK economy as a whole, as well as for retailers.

“The business rates regime is a 400 year old system, with an assessment approach designed over 50 years ago. It is complex to operate, creating expensive bureaucracy and confusion around its role, given it has become a national tax raised theoretically for local services. The time is ripe for reform.”

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