A day ahead of Autumn Statement, shopworkers’ trade union Usdaw has warned Chancellor of Exchequer of the impact on retail and jobs if he presses ahead with a widely reported rise in business rates.
In a public statement, Paddy Lillis, Usdaw General Secretary, stated that last year the government acknowledged the specific burden of business rates on the retail sector, with a series of measures of support, specifically freezing the business rates multiplier.
“While this was in recognition of the economic damage caused by the energy crisis and inflationary pressures, the government has long been aware of the cumulative burden rates have placed on the sector.
“Despite the support outlined by government in terms of business rates, over 67,000 retail workers have lost their jobs this year with nearly 5,500 retail stores shutting up shop. While inflation has eased in recent months, the climate in retail remains challenging and an inflationary increase in the business rates multiplier and the removal of reliefs would be disastrous, resulting in further store closures and job losses,” Lillis said.
Usdaw recognises the needs for businesses to pay their fair share of taxation, however an inflation-linked increase to the business rates multiplier will cost retail businesses £480 million, he said, adding that the sector cannot afford to absorb these substantial costs and anything other than a freeze in business rates will have a ripple effect, not just on retail, but the wider economy.
“The Government has committed to prioritise Corporation Tax reliefs to promote investment. However, for many retailers, it is business rates which act as the primary drag on their ability to invest in communities, this is because rates must be paid regardless of whether a business makes a profit or a loss.
Usdaw’s full submission sets out our full list of priorities for the Autumn Statement, one of which is fundamental reform of business rates.
“We continue to urge the Government to take decisive action, including the introduction of an online sales tax, to create a more level playing field for businesses. In this Autumn statement it is essential that, as a minimum, the Government continues their business rates support in terms of prioritising a freeze in the multiplier, and an increase in the relief measures already in place.”