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Review must not let councils set business rates

A review of local government financing in England must not lead to councils regaining control of setting business rates, says the British Retail Consortium.

GENERAL MERCHANDISE

Review must not let councils set business rates

A review of local government financing in England must not lead to councils regaining control of setting business rates, says the British Retail Consortium.

Responding to the terms of reference for the Local Government Resource Review the BRC said giving local authorities greater incentives to increase their business base through being allowed to retain more of the rates raised in their areas would be welcome but there should be no return to localised business rate setting.

British Retail Consortium Director General Stephen Robertson said: "This review must not lead to local setting of business rates. That would damage growth and jobs.

"The current uniform business rate, set at national level, provides certainty and consistency for national retailers. The localised business rate system was scrapped in 1990 because it created huge inconsistencies in rates and left businesses – who have no vote - open to excessive and unpredictable rate hikes.

"At a time like this when local authority budgets are under strain, it would be only too tempting for councils to see businesses as an easy source of extra revenue, ignoring the damage to local economies. Recent experience in Scotland and Northern Ireland where large retailer levies have been proposed highlights how vulnerable the sector is to this kind of opportunism."

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