Tax & admin · 6 July 2016

West London retailers pressure Osborne to scrap business rates revaluation

oxford street
George Osborne’s 2017 revaluation could see business rates for Oxford Street retailers go up by as much as 80 per cent.

The business body representing more than 600 retailers and commercial property owners in West London’s busiest shopping districts has urged chancellor George Osborne to abandon his revaluation of business rates, planned for 2017.

In light of the perceived economic uncertainty that’s expected to follow Britain’s vote to leave the EU, the New West End Company (NWEC) has written a letter to Osborne calling for the revaluation to be cancelled.

Arguing that British firms need as much certainty as possible to adapt to the new environment and to find and exploit new opportunities, the NWEC’s letter suggested that, should the government choose to proceed with the revaluation, at the very least a transitional relief scheme should be introduced.

To help retailers gradually adjust to business rate increases, the letter puts forward the case for a 12.5 per cent rate increase cap – matching the last three revaluations.

NWEC chairman Peter Rogers, who penned the letter to Osborne, wrote: “Our government has an opportunity and a choice to help safeguard some vital areas of our capital’s economy, which we strongly it them to take.

“Britain’s vote to leave the EU has created significant economic doubt. In these times of insecurity, our major economic engines need to be supported more than ever.”

Representing business and property owners on Bond Street, Oxford Street, Regent Street and 22 of the surrounding streets, the NWEC covers 6.3 hectares of West London’s prime retail district. The area creates as much gross value added (GVA) as the whole of Wales, and is in those terms more valuable to the national economy than The City of London.

The planned 2017 revaluation will see business rates for West End retailers go up by as much as 80 per cent.

Calling for further reform to rebalance the playing field in favour of high street retailers faced with increasingly fierce competition from online stores, Rogers went on to say: “Business rates are by far the biggest tax for shop-based retailers so this means that online traders get away without contributing to this major business tax.

“We are pressing for a reconsideration of this measure to help protect the West End, which contributes so much to the economy, to employment and to tourism.”

Read our expert’s advice on business rates: what you need to know as a small business owner.

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Fred Heritage was previously deputy editor at Business Advice. He has a BA in politics and international relations from the University of Kent and an MA in international conflict from Kings College London.

HR