United Kingdom

Number of shops appealing against business rate bills rises sharply

 The number of shops appealing against their business rates bills has soared by almost two-thirds, as firms battle a downturn on the high street.

Around 4,000 challenges were submitted to inspectors at the state-run Valuation Office Agency during the first three months of the year, a 65 per cent jump on three months earlier.

Tough conditions for retailers has seen the number of challenges climb sharply, with a total of 12,390 disputes lodged by businesses since April 2017, according to law firm RPC.

Retailers are increasingly warning that bumper business rates are making it impossible to make a profit from bricks-and-mortar stores while their online rivals are thriving

 Rates are charged based on the VOA’s estimate of what a property is worth on the rental market.

Firms can appeal if they think this is too high.

Retailers are increasingly warning that bumper rates are making it impossible to make a profit from bricks-and-mortar stores, at a time when far less heavily taxed online rivals are storming ahead.

The figures come after more than 50 high street businesses wrote to Chancellor Sajid Javid last week blaming the rates system for shop closures and urging the Government to freeze further increases.

Jeremy Drew of RPC said: ‘The sharp jump in challenges shows that the burden of business rates is causing more and more pain for retailers on the high street.

‘The Government needs to go further than it did last autumn when business rates were reduced for only the smallest of retailers.

‘The retail sector’s view is that the changes made just tinkered around the edges and made the business rates regime even more complex.’

Retailers’ struggles have been highlighted by the Mail’s Save Our High Streets campaign that calls for a shake-up of business rates and a level playing field on tax paid by bricks-and-mortar retailers and internet-only firms.

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