By Naida Redgrave
Following the rejection of Sunday trading relaxation proposals, the British Independent Retailers Association (BIRA), which represents small shops across the UK, has “stressed the urgency to move on.”
The association is calling for urgent action in this week’s budget on two key items; the reinstatement of the £1,500 discount on rates for smaller retail properties, and a definitive statement on business rate reform. The government’s proposed plan to extend Sunday trading hours was rejected last week after MPs voted against the bill.
BIRA chief executive officer Alan Hawkins commented: “The government said that the aim of devolving control of trading hours was designed to help the high street. The messy solution that was proposed has now been cleared out of the way, but the government has an opportunity in next week’s budget to put right a short term error, reinstating the £1,500 discount, and to announce long term reform that will make a difference to the high street.
“Last year BIRA, put forward a ten point plan to make the tax fit for purpose. It would transform rates into a progressive tax by creating a new property equivalent of the personal allowance to apply to premises, above which rates would apply based on a single ‘multiplier’. This would take small shops permanently out of paying rates, something that most commentators are agreed is necessary. Removing indexation based on RPI and increasing the rate of revaluations to make the tax responsive to economic realities are among other proposals.”