The Booksellers Association has called for the scrapping of business rates altogether for small businesses in a meeting in the House of Commons.
Tim Godfray, c.e.o of The Booksellers Association, said in a speech to the all-party parliamentary small shops group that The BA and the British Retail Consortium would like to see “small businesses removed completely from the financial and administrative burden of business rates”.
Addressing David Gauke, financial secretary to the Treasury, Godfray also said properties should be valued more frequently, making the tax more responsible to the actual state of the economy.
“Thirdly, the new arrangements should be equitable across industries – so that internet retailers with huge warehouses way out of town don’t have a competitive advantage over town centres and high streets,” he added.
Godfray was speaking shortly after a review of business rates was announced by Chancellor George Osborne during the Autumn Statement.
He said: “I note that the Review Board will not report back until 2016. I hope we won’t have to wait until 2020 for a new system to be introduced -We can’t wait that long.”
He also welcomed the increase in small business rate relief for indie businesses, with the discount increased from £1,000 to £1,500 per premises.
Following the Autumn Statement, the Council of Rochdale has also announced it is cutting business rates by 80% to get more business to take up empty properties in the town centre.
According to the Manchester Evening News, members of Rochdale council's cabinet approved the scheme which will see new businesses moving into one of 23 empty premises in Rochdale town centre get an 80% discount on their business rates for the first year, and a 50% cut in the second year. In addition, the council is also permanently reducing parking prices by introducing free parking for the first three hours after 10am in all town centre car parks.
Indie booksellers have frequently listed high business rates and customer car parking charged among the top issues which impact on their businesses.