Baroness Gail Rebuck, the chair of Penguin Random House UK, is urging publishers as well as booksellers to submit evidence to the Treasury Committee’s business rates inquiry.
Last week, the Treasury Committee launched a new inquiry into business rates to scrutinise how government policy has impacted businesses and to examine how business rates policy has changed.
Rebuck told The Bookseller: “I welcome the inquiry into the effectiveness and impact of business rates being led by the Treasury Select Committee. I hope it will lead to the Government making the system of taxation on businesses fairer so that smaller businesses and our high street bookshops in particular can not only survive but thrive. This is desperately needed as we are losing 14 shops on our high streets every day.
“I have long argued for our bookshops to be protected from excessive rates hikes, some facing up to 50% increases in the South East. I know booksellers will make their representations but I urge publishers to submit evidence too given that so many of our creative industries depend on books, and the variety and impact of what we publish relies in turn on a flourishing high street with a variety of bookshops acting as community hubs and cultural beacons where the majority of new books are discovered.”
Stephen Lotinga, chief executive of the Publishers Association, added: “Publishers want bookshops to thrive and the current business rates system is piling on pressure for many at an already challenging time for the high street. It’s a system in need of reform and it is welcome that parliament are looking at this. Bookshops can be vital community hubs and are integral in terms of promoting the value of books and building a nation of readers.”
Giles Clifton, head of corporate affairs at the Booksellers Association, welcomed the inquiry and said he hopes the BA and booksellers will be asked to give evidence. Business rates, which are currently worked out by multiplying the rateable value of property by the standard or small business multiplier, are a long-running bone of contention for the book trade with trade figures calling for an overhaul of the system.
The deadline for written submissions to the inquiry is 2nd April, 2019. To send a written submission, visit here.