A review of local government financing in England must not lead to councils regaining control of setting business rates, according to the British Retail Consortium.
Responding to the terms of reference for the Local Government Resource Review, the BRC said that the current uniform business rate, set at national level, provides certainty and consistency for national retailers.
“This review must not lead to local setting of business rates,” commented BRC director general Stephen Robertson. “That would damage growth and jobs.
“The localised business rate system was scrapped in 1990 because it created huge inconsistencies in rates and left businesses – who have no vote – open to excessive and unpredictable rate hikes.
“At a time like this when local authority budgets are under strain, it would be only too tempting for councils to see businesses as an easy source of extra revenue, ignoring the damage to local economies.
“Recent experience in Scotland and Northern Ireland where large retailer levies have been proposed highlights how vulnerable the sector is to this kind of opportunism,” he added.