Retailers urge MPs to help high streets in 2013
Retailers across the UK are calling on local MPs to make helping high streets one of their top priorities in 2013.
The British Retail Consortium is urging MPs to prioritise listening to local businesses and helping halt high street decline. The call comes as latest figures show that the empty shops rate in town centres has reached a new high of 11.3%, and a poll of MPs which shows that two-thirds believe high streets in their constituencies have deteriorated noticeably over the last five years.
The BRC is recommending that taking action against the rising cost of doing business in the UK is the number one thing that MPs should do to help high streets. It is asking them to join calls for the Government to freeze business rates, which are set to rise by 2.6% in 2013.
The organisation says a rise in business rates of over 10% in the last two years has added over half a billion pounds to retailers' bills during tough trading conditions. It is also warning that an additional rise in April would do further damage to the UK's high streets and deter investment and job creation.
New BRC director general Helen Dickinson said: "MPs understand that high streets are focal points for communities and essential to local economies. But many high streets are facing a real endurance test in these challenging times, and rising operating costs are making matters worse.
"The Autumn Statement didn't include a pledge to freeze business rates next year, but there's still time for the Government to do the right thing. Another steep rise would pose a serious threat to vulnerable town centres and mean fewer jobs, especially for young people.
"Two-thirds of MPs have already told us that they support a rates freeze next year – I urge them to keep pushing for change if they want to breathe life back into our town centres and preserve and protect local businesses."
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