By Jonathan Davies

A "radical" review of the business rates system in England has been launched, paving "the way for changes" to the current system, according to the Treasury.

The review will be completed in time for the 2016 Budget.

It was first announced in the Autumn Statement in December, but Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander, said: "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."

However, many experts believe that the amount of money paid by businesses will not go down.

Speaking to the BBC, Mr Alexander said: "Lots and lots of people have views about how the business rates system doesn't work, but as soon as you get into what an alternative system might look like there's much less consensus."

The decision to launch the review comes after widespread criticism over a system that has been in place since 1988.

Under the current system, businesses are charged based on the value of the property. It means similarly sized businesses could end up paying vastly different sums of money because of varying "rateable values".

John Cridland, director-general of the CBI, described the current system as "outmoded, clunky and regressive" and "holding back the high street".

"We'll be making the case for removing the smallest firms from paying business rates completely... and introducing more frequent valuations," he said.

John Longworth, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce, said: "Unless a root and branch reform of business rates is delivered at Budget 2016, firms will regard this as a missed opportunity to tackle a huge brake on investment and growth."