The complexities of the current rating system are well documented as business rates have become a significant proportion of the total taxes faced by companies. However, with only hours until the country goes to the polling station, what the main political parties are proposing to solve this issue seems to fall short.
Commercial property consultant Ryden has run an analysis of the main parties’ manifesto pledges for business rates reform in England.
While there are encouraging messages about undertaking reviews, none of the parties have pledged to implement the recommendations of the Treasury Select Committee on Business Rates Reform published on 31st October 2019.
The Conservatives are contemplating additional rates reliefs for retailers, music venues and cinemas. Labour also recognise the issues in the high street and offer to review the option of a land value tax on commercial landlords as an alternative, as well as pledging to support the steel industry.
The Liberal Democrats pledge to review the system and reduce business rates for retail, grassroots music venues and small cinemas and pubs. The Brexit Party want to replace business rates with a more straightforward system, funded in part through an online sale tax, and the Green Party suggest abolishing rates and replacing them with a Land Value Tax
"It is quite clear that the current business rates system is no longer fit for purpose. It does not incentivise investment as businesses that improve their properties are hit with higher business rates.
“Furthermore, the cumbersome Check Challenge and Appeal system has resulted in long delays and a backlog of appeals. This is unacceptable to the business community, especially those running small businesses, and it needs overhauled. The statutory time limits for responding to appeals must be reduced.
"Whichever party is elected this week, they must consider real reform and prepare a consultation in time for the 2020 Spring Statement".
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