Issues of the Day

Issues of the Day

Business rates. A taxing issue.

The latest re-rating of the Uniform Business Rate is driving retailers to the wall in record numbers. Some 60,932 stores closed between 2012 and the end of 2017, and the Centre for Retail Research predicts another 31,000 shops will close over the next five years with 382,500 jobs lost.

Last year, retail bell-weather, the John Lewis Partnership made no money for the first time in their trading history. And Sainsbury’s paid out more in business rates than they made in profit- £550 million against £409 million respectively. Overall, online retailers hold a vast competitive advantage in paying only £457 million in rates compared to the bricks and mortar outlets collective impost of £7.2 billion.

The High Street is dying thanks to our socialist government that is conservative in name only, or CINO. Adding insult to injury, central government sets the rates and forces local authorities to collect the money and hand it over to HMRC before sending part back again.

Democracy17.4 membership association advocates the wholesale abolition of business rates on bricks and mortar shops to provide a level playing field with online retailers. And preferential treatment of online outlets such as Amazon must cease. To plug the funding gap, we advocate online retailers pay at minimum 10% of profits earned in the U.K. irrespective of their jurisdictional arrangements.

Although our CINO Government has kept quiet, it is worth noting that a quarter of the 20% VAT levy goes to the EU. Once we leave in March 2019, the U.K. can revert to a British purchase tax at 15% without any loss to the Exchequer. All that is needed is a change at the top!

July 2018.

Centre for Retail Research.
Bill Grimsey for Iceland & Wickes.