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Extra business rates plan worries retailers

Published:  23 July, 2008

Retailers have expressed concerns over Government plans to give more powers to local authorities to raise additional taxes from businesses.

Outlined yesterday as part of the Government's draft legislation programme, the Business Rates Supplement Bill will give upper-tier local authorities new power to levy a local supplement on business rates and to retain the proceeds for investment in that area.

There will be national upper limit to the levy of 2p per 1 of rateable value and an exemption for all properties with a rateable value of 50,000 or less.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: "Yet again the Government is introducing a new tax burden for local businesses.

"It is particularly disappointing that through Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) there are already mechanisms to raise funds for local investment, and once again hard-working businesses are being faced with the prospect of paying twice for the services they should expect from their local authority as a matter of course."

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) said it was concerned that the proposals will not be subject to proper consultation before the Bill is introduced in the autumn.

Stephen Robertson, BRC director general, said: "With retailers facing tough trading conditions, they need less burdens placed on them by Government, not more, so that they can effectively deliver further employment opportunities, skills training and play a vital role in regeneration.

"There's a real danger that the proposals outlined in the draft Queen's Speech' will lead to cash-strapped local authorities shoring up their finances by raising additional revenue through Business Rate Supplements.

"To prevent local authority abuse, it's essential that businesses are given safeguards, such as giving them a vote whenever a business rate supplement is proposed."