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Most MPs say business rates need ‘fundamental reform’

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They found 80 per cent of MPs surveyed said it needs reform and 93 per cent said that this reform was important to High Street growth.

The BRC report ‘Manifesto Milestones,’ said that business rates are “not fit for purpose,” and partly to blame for businesses suffering heavy losses during the economic downturn – resulting in the closure of familiar brands like Woolworth’s.

The business rates multiplier is currently set at 48.2 per cent, and accounts for 30 per cent of total taxation on business.

The size of these rates are a particular problem for property intensive businesses as they are levied based on the rateable value of property the business inhabits. This has resulted in concern that small retailer businesses are suffering from over-taxation and having their growth stifled – business tax offers no incentives for growth or otherwise for growing or successful companies.

The survey asked 113 Members of Parliament, the vast majority of which said business tax was antiquated and in need of fundamental update.

The Milestones report suggested shifting the emphasis away from property towards, for instance, a tax based on energy to discourage energy consumption. 

Other suggestions included tax breaks based on job creation or corporation tax, or simply modernising the existing system, for example, by creating a more simple banding system which categorises property based on size, location and type of property, rather than valuing each individually. 

The BRC are petitioning party leaders to support these reforms in the run up to the 2015 election, and seeking widespread reforms by 2017.

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