Retail sector underwhelmed by level of planned business rate cuts

Business leaders and retail industry heads are responding to the Government’s business rates reforms announced in the Autumn Budget, with many complaining that the changes will do little to aid struggling larger high street retailers.

Reacting to the planned reforms, which will see rates of retailers with a rateable value of £51,000 or less on their property being cut by a third, business and industry leaders share their views:

David Atkins, Chief Executive of shopping centre owner Hammerson, says the small firms might be relieved but complained that larger retailers shoulder almost 70 per cent of the rates burden.

A spokesperson for London Designer Outlet in Wembley Park, the fashion and lifestyle outlet destination, says the reforms “will have minimal impact” for nearly three quarters of its tenants.

Alex Probyn, President of UK Expert Services at Altus Group, the real estate data expert, says: “Despite this meaningful statement of support, the Chancellor’s headline giveaway still does nothing to help those larger retailers who are reducing their store portfolios and headcounts often citing high rates as a contributory factor.

“More concerning is that it doesn’t solve any long term unfairnesses for those large premises who’s property value has fallen significantly but are denied the commensurate tax reduction that the removal of downwards transition would provide.

“It also completely ignores our manufacturing and services sectors that continue to face the brunt of Brexit uncertainties.”

And British Retail Consortium Chief Executive Helen Dickinson adds: “While we welcome the temporary support being given to small businesses, these measures alone are not sufficient to enable a successful reinvention of our high streets.

“Retailers are currently in the midst of a perfect storm of factors – technology changing how people shop, rising public policy costs and softening demand.

“Rather than tinkering around the edges, struggling high streets require wholesale reform of business rates in order to thrive. The issue remains that the business rates burden is simply too high.”

At Beavis Morgan, we understand the demands placed on SMEs in this convoluted and sometimes confrontational tax environment. We therefore work at understanding you, your business and its unique issues, and provide advice and solutions to help you improve your net worth and increase growth and profitability. We even liaise with HM Revenue & Customs on your behalf, so you don’t have to.

Our diverse team of tax professionals are committed to ensuring that your tax reporting obligations are fully satisfied and that every opportunity to lawfully exploit tax savings is made known to you, restructuring your affairs in a tax effective and efficient way.

Contact your usual Beavis Morgan Partner for further information about how we can assist you and your business.