MINISTERS were derided by businesses after it was decided that a revaluation of business rates should be pushed back from 2015 to 2017.
Communities secretary Eric Pickles (pictured) delayed the move by two years in order to help small businesses and prevent any unexpected rise in rates.
But the government is facing criticism from property experts, retailers and MPs who believe the move will leave tenants paying a levy based on “top-of-the-market rates for longer”, reports the Financial Times.
Mary Portas, a retail expert who led a review into the high street for the government last year, described the delay as a “tragedy for the high street”, and has been left “hugely disappointed”.
The crux of the criticism is that rents in poorer areas of the UK have slumped as much as 40% since the economic downturn began in 2008, while they have remained high in richer areas such as the south east. Despite that, business rates, based on historic rents, have remained unmoved.
Chief executive of the British Property Federation Liz Peace said a revaluation would “shift the burden from those who are suffering to those who are prospering”.
“By postponing, the government is not allowing the downward adjustment that would otherwise take place for suffering retailers,” she added.
Government calculations suggest a revaluation would help about 300,000 businesses, but would leave 800,000 with higher bills.
The current business rates system is over-complex and reform is needed, but reforms should focus first of all on simplifying the appeals process, particularly for businesses which are subject to business rates exemption
The CIoT has called on the government to rethink its approach to ensuring online sellers pay the correct amount of VAT.
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