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    Calls to scrap business rates rise

    (Photo by Ian Forsyth/Getty Images)

    Retailers are calling on UK Chancellor to scrap the business rates rise in his upcoming budget so they can continue to deliver the best value for customers.

    British Retail Consortium (BRC) has been demanding the government to reconsider the business rate rise due next year in April, warning that it will put extra load on retailers and might lead to price rise.

    UK retail sales slumped last month as hotter-than-expected weather put shoppers off buying autumn clothing, according to official figures. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said retail sales volumes fell by 0.9 per cent in September against the previous month. It came after a 0.4 per cent increase in August.

    The fall was heavier than expected, with analysts having predicted a 0.3 per cent decline for September. Food sales ticked 0.2 per cent higher for the month, although this reflected a slowdown after a 1.4 per cent rise in August.

    Commenting on the recent figures, Helen Dickinson, chief executive of BRC, stated on Friday (20) that with the “Golden Quarter” fast approaching, retailers are hopeful that easing inflation we have seen in recent months will boost consumer confidence.

    “Retailers will continue to support customers by bringing prices down wherever they can. But, the support they can provide will be limited by the expected £470m-a-year rise to business rates from next April. The Chancellor must scrap the rates rise in his upcoming Budget so retailers can continue to deliver the best value for customers over the festive period and beyond.”

    After ONS reported 6.7 per cent inflation figures for September, intelligence firm Altus Group signalled a £1.95 billion jump in these tax payments by businesses in England as inflation reading is typically used to decide the increase in business rates – the property tax paid by businesses such as retailers, pubs and offices – for the following April.

    It comes a month after a group comprising of 44 retail leaders raised the demand to  to freeze the business rates multiplier at its current level. In a letter to the Chancellor, the retailers said the action would help their efforts to deal with inflation and allow them to increase their investments.

    The retail industry currently pays more than £7bn annually in business rates.

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