A survey by the British Retail Consortium (BRC) suggests business rates are having a "devastating impact" on the retail sector, with 83% of retailers saying they are likely to close their store unless rates are reduced.
In its survey of "leading retailers", the BRC found 85% of retailers considered business rates an important issue when opening or closing stores, while 67% said business rates had contributed to a closure in the past two years.
The Government is due to conclude a review of business rates in autumn 2021 to reduce the overall burden on business and improve the current system.
During the pandemic, the Government removed business rates for eligible businesses between 1 April 2020 and 30 June 2021. Those businesses will now get 66% off their rates bills until 31 March 2022.
Bills are still based on property values from April 2015, however, and don't reflect a business's sales or profitability.
Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the BRC, said:
"Given the retail industry contributes almost £100bn to the economy (Gross Value Added) and employs over three million people spread across the country, it has a vital role in both the UK's economic recovery and the Government's levelling up agenda.
"This report underscores the urgency of fixing the broken business rates system, which currently holds back new jobs and investment."
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