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Retail leaders join call urging incoming prime minister to cut business rates

By Rachel Douglass


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Image: Westminster City Council, Cllr Adam Hug

A collective of UK retail businesses have come together to urge prime minister candidates Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak to cut business rates and make positive changes to communities and the economy.

The letter was signed by the likes of the CEO of New West End Company, the chair of Central London Forward, the leader of Westminster City Council and the London regional chair of the Federation of Small businesses.

In the joint letter, the group asked the incoming prime minister to commit to adaptations that have been neglected by past governments, such as protecting employment, reducing inflation and promoting growth.

The letter continued: “For years, this problem has been growing, disincentivising investment and devastating our high streets. The sticking plasters of over a dozen forms of relief add layers of administration and complexity.

“Business rates reform can empower local areas, allowing more businesses to grow and local authorities to keep more of the money generated by occupied high streets.”

Additionally, the business leaders requested for the government to make VAT-free shopping available for international tourists, noting that the UK was now the only European country to not offer this to non-EU visitors, a factor the letter said was putting it at a disadvantage.

It builds on the increasing pressure faced by Sunak and Truss from businesses demanding some form of commitment to cutting business rates.

An earlier open letter from the Retail Jobs Alliance asked the incoming prime minister to prioritise changes to the Shops Tax in response to the increase of business rates faced by retailers, largely due to inflation.

The British Independent Retailers Association (Bira), Tesco and Claire’s Accessories were among the signatories of the letter.

Westminster City Council