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Government launches most wide-ranging business rates review in a generation

The government has launched what it described as the most wide-ranging review of national business rates in a generation as it looks to pave the way for changes to how businesses across England pay the tax.

GENERAL MERCHANDISE

Government launches most wide-ranging business rates review in a generation

The review, set to report back by Budget 2016, will examine the structure of the current system which is paid annually on 1.8 million properties in England. The review will look at how businesses use property, what the UK can learn from other countries about local business taxes, and how the system could be modernised.

The Chief Secretary Danny Alexander launched the review during a speech to local businesses in Cambridge.

Alexander said: “Our system of business rates was created nearly 30 years ago. Since that time, the worlds of commerce and industry have changed beyond recognition. I’ve been impressed by the representations made by the business community and I know that business rates are a considerable cost.

“The government has taken measures to help businesses by capping rates and introducing reliefs for smaller businesses. But now the time has come for a radical review of this important tax. We want to ensure the business rates system is fair, efficient and effective.”

The announcement follows the government’s commitment in December 2014 to conduct a review of business rates and implement a £1 billion package to reduce the cost of business rates in 2015-16, with particular support for the smallest businesses and the high street.

The British Retail Consortium has said it welcomed today’s announcement.

Helen Dickinson, BRC director general, said: “We very much welcome this further announcement of a complete review of the business rates system.  This is, after all, a system that acts as a major drag on our economy while punishing our local high street.

“We supported the government’s decision back in December to take a proper look at the inequities of this system and today’s announcement from the Chief Secretary of a ‘radical’ review is great news for all of us who want a fairer, more efficient and sustainable system.”

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