Written by: Keith Tully
Reviewed: Wednesday 3rd July, 2013
The government has been urged to review business rates in the UK at once, following a fresh wave of retailers collapsing.
The British Retail Consortium (BRC) has called for MPs to tackle the high costs faced by shop-based retailers, or risk seeing further businesses collapse under the financial strain.
Helen Dickinson, Director General of the BRC, said: “Business rates continue to be one of the major decision making points behind whether or not a retailer feels they can continue their business.”
The call comes as more and more chains go into administration. Mostyn’s, a curtain and soft-furnishings retailer and manufacturer, has recently filed an intention to appoint administrators, putting hundreds of jobs at risk.
The firm operates 25 stores and was only bought out of administration in September 2012. However, despite great efforts the business has struggled to stay afloat in present economic times.
Steve Adshead and Greg Palfrey of Smith & Williamson are the potential administrators. Adshead told the Guardian: “It’s a difficult time on the high street and this business just ran out of cash. It had launched a website but faced serious competition online as well.”
Business rates have reportedly increased by 4.6% in 2011 and 5.6% last year.
Vince Cable, the Business Secretary, had promised to review such rates when the economy became stabilised but the industry trade association has asked for the review to be brought forward immediately, saying that the government needs to act fast and work harder as businesses struggle to survive.
Mostyn’s is not the only retailer fighting to keep its doors open. Recently, clothing retailer Internacionale, fashion brand Ark, and Hornby toys stockist ModelZone have all issued intentions to appoint administrators.
Dickinson claims that the Future High Streets Forum- a policy advisory group- should be used to lead a rates review. It is an industry-led group that advises the government on challenges facing the high street, in order to help the regeneration of town centres.
The BRC wants a brand new system to calculate rate rises and is advocating that there should be a one-off freeze for business rates in 2013, rather than the planned 2.6% rise.
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