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Business rates need a shake-up

Britain's business rates system is in urgent need of reform, according to more than 100 of the country's biggest companies who claim the current system is no longer 'fit for purpose'.

Tony Elliott, Dyke Yaxley's Senior Tax Planning Consultant, said: "The British Retail Consortium co-ordinated the action, and 107 businesses have signed an open letter calling on the main political parties to commit to 'fundamental reform' if they win the next general election.

"They want a modern, sustainable and transparent business rating system which they feel would unleash investment that could create more skilled and entry-level jobs by easing the way for businesses to expand."

Some of Britain's biggest businesses including Marks & Spencer, Sainsbury's, Tesco, General Motors and Tata Steel have called on the Government to rip up the current business rate regime, claiming the current system is "a critical problem of all of British business".

The controversial tax delivers around £25 billion to the Treasury every year, but has been blamed for the demise of the high street in recent years.

Tony said: "The sheer breadth and size of companies which have signed this open letter illustrate that there is a cross-the-board view that the existing system is no longer fit for purpose."

The letter comes just weeks after the Business, Innovation and Skills Committee urged the Government to address the current system.

The report called for a six-month business rates amnesty for firms using empty properties, a review of whether rates should be linked to the consumer or retail strand of the inflation index, and any annual increase in rates to be capped at 2%.

Tony added: "It is becoming increasingly clear that businesses sees the current rating system as one of the biggest threats to the survival of retail businesses, and of the high street.

"We all see the number of empty shops in Shropshire's market towns, so it will come as little surprise that retailers are seeking a helping hand from a revamped rating system."

Tony Elliott, Dyke Yaxley's Senior Tax Planning Consultant