A rise in business rates could be passed on to the consumer

A rise in business rates could be passed on to the consumer

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) has called on the Government to freeze business rates as UK inflation reaches a five-year high.

Figures this week from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show the Consumer Prices Index (CPI) hit 3% for September, up from 2.9% in August. This is the highest level since March 2012. The Retail Prices Index (RPI) for September, meanwhile, reached 3.9%.

The BRC says retailers will face a rates rise twice as large as last year if there is no government intervention, hitting them with an extra GBP270m (US$355.5m) in tax next April.

"The consequences of [the] RPI figures could be severe for many shops in a precarious position and struggling to survive," says BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson. "Consumers, already seeing household incomes eroded, will face further misery as the pound in their pocket buys them less at the checkout.

"For many shops this may be the last straw. Across the country, especially in economically deprived and vulnerable communities, the cost of failing to take action will likely be seen in yet more empty shops and gap-toothed high streets."

Dickinson says retailers will likely look to pass the extra rates cost onto the consumer.

"Ministers' mustn't bury their heads in the sand. In his Budget next month, the Chancellor needs to get a grip on the matter and rule out a rise in business rates to help save shops, protect jobs, and preserve high streets."