By Jonathan Davies

More than 100 UK businesses, large and small from retail, manufacturing, property, hospitality and services industries have called on political parties to commit to a fundamental reform of the business rates system.

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) says the system is no longer fir for purpose and has led to punitive rates that are higher than any other property tax in Europe and one of the highest in the OECD.

The one hundred and seven organisations from the various sectors have signed an open letter to the three main political party leaders that appears this morning in a full page advert in The Daily Telegraph.

The wide coalition of signatories, co-ordinated by the British Retail Consortium, who range from FTSE 100 companies to SMEs, say that business rates are “no longer fit for the purpose of the 21st century” and should be revamped to unleash investment in order to create new skilled and entry level jobs on the high street, bring new and expanded businesses into local communities and support other industrial investment.

Helen Dickinson, Director General of the British Retail Consortium, said:

“Today’s open letter proposes that the political parties should make a commitment to look at deeper reform of business rates if they form the next government after the election. The sheer breadth of industries represented shows the strength of our collective belief that the existing system is no longer fit for purpose and that we will support the work of a future government to carry out reforms so that we can all play our part in growing the UK economy.”

Shalini Khemka, CEO of E2Exchange said: ”Fundamental reform of the outdated business rate system is long overdue. We strongly favour moving to a system where the rates a company pays depends as much on its performance as it does on the property value of its premises. Fledgling businesses with floorspace intensive business models are being disproportionately affected. The Government wants to help open up doors for SME’s but the current business rates system means they are being firmly boarded up, and this needs to change urgently.”

Do you think business rates need to be reformed? You can email your reactions to editor@freshbusinessthinking.com

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