BCC joins calls for business rates reform

The group announced it has urged Osborne to freeze rates for two years and completely reform the way the tax is administered by 2015.

BCC Director-General John Longworth said that businesses are reaching “boiling point” and that the entire rates system needs “root-and-branch reform”.

He said: “Firms across the UK have been crying out for relief from these burdensome taxes for years, but so far their pleas have been ignored.

“It is cynical to freeze council tax while allowing the pain caused by business rates to continue, and goes against pro-business pledges made by the government.

“The cost of spiralling business rate bills is without a doubt the most commonly cited issue facing firms’ ability to grow.”

At present businesses are taxed based on the value of the property they inhabit, rather than their stage in the business cycle or their ability to pay.

British businesses face the highest rates bill in Europe. The total revenue generated through the system is double that of France and Germany combined, as a proportion of GDP.

Longworth continued: “We need a new framework that is more flexible, transparent and responsive to changes in the economic environment. We know this costs money, but there is scope to do it within the government’s fiscal plan.

“That way, businesses can put more money into driving economic growth, which benefits UK plc far more than the cost to the Treasury.”

The BCC’s announcement follows similar calls from the CBI, which called for incentives such as a business rates holiday for firms helping rejuvenate the high street. 

George Osborne will deliver the Autumn Statement on December 5th.

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