Businesses bosses call for overhaul of ‘broken business rates’ in bid to save our high streets

Business leaders from around the East Midlands are calling on the Government to reform the ‘broken’ business rates system in a bid to save our high streets.

The East Midlands Chamber - which represents businesses across Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire - have made the call as part of its 2015 General Election business manifesto.

The chamber claims that a fundamental overhaul of business rates would help local firms to ‘reduce the cost of doing business’.

In its manifesto, the chamber is calling on the Government to: “Undertake a root and branch review of the broken business rates system to deliver something that fairly reflects a business’s ability to pay.”

The document continues: “The existing system has resulted in the highest business rates in Europe and areas of the East Midlands where otherwise viable commercial space is left empty.”

It also states that all business rates should be frozen while a full review of the system takes place.

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles paved the way for a reform of the UK’s system in January by unveiling a £415m package of business rates cuts.

It followed comments made by Prime Minister David Cameron a few days earlier that there was a need to “look at longer term reform” of business rates.

Chamber spokesman Chris Hobson said: “The chamber has long campaigned for a fundamental reform of Britain’s broken business rates system, so it was good to see the Prime Minister acknowledge that it was an issue which needs addressing.

“The various rates reliefs have helped many smaller companies but they are little more than sticking plaster and only a complete overhaul of the system will heal this sickness, which threatens the survival of some of our High Streets and many other businesses.

“Business rates are a huge and rising fixed cost, a drag on business, hitting companies of all sizes long before they turn a profit.

“To create an environment where companies can thrive, business rates need to be contained.

“Ultimately, companies of all sizes need to be clear on taxes and rates bills so they can get on with generating jobs, wealth and growth with certainty.”

The chamber took a delegation of representatives of more than 50 member businesses to Westminster this week (November 25) to meet MPs and launch its 2015 General Election business manifesto.

The event was sponsored by Chesterfield MP Toby Perkins, the Shadow Minister for Small Business and was also attended by a host of regional MPs, including Mid Derbyshire’s Pauline Latham MP.