Four MPs – Nicky Morgan (chair of the Treasury Committee), Clive Betts (chair of the Housing, Communities and Local Government Select Committee), Steve Baker and Alison McGovern – brought the Treasury Committee’s enquiry into business rates to Birmingham today (Monday May 20), to speak to several retailers at the head office of British Independent Retailers Association (Bira).
Bira said the MPs ‘heard how business rates are crippling retailers and heard suggestions for a new system’ from retailers including Surinder Josan of All Seasons DIY in Smethwick, Liz Lawson of Lawsons in Devon, Duncan Mackay of Mackays of Cambridge, Martin Foster of Lakeland Leather in Cumbria, Cheryl Thallon of Sheaf Street Health Store in Daventry and Jacqui Bennett of Cooks of Trentham in Stoke-on-Trent.
Members of the National Federation of Retail Newsagents and the Association of Convenience Stores also attended and took part in round table discussions.
Bira ceo Andrew Goodacre commented: “It was incredibly important for the MPs to come out of London to hear from retailers from the rest of the country and to gain an understanding of what’s happening at the coal face. The MPs really listened to the retailers’ views and agreed that significant change is needed. We were pleased that Bira’s proposal for a business rates allowance was heard, as well as more fundamental calls for reform.”
Surinder Josan added: “Having MPs come to Birmingham to listen to us was a pivotal moment. Business rates are crippling many independent retailers – I’ve had to put plans for expansion on hold due to my rates – and we need to do all we can to stem the losses and make our high streets thriving places again.
“Nicky Morgan really listened and made lots of notes, so I’m hopeful that she took something away from today and took on board our ideas for reform. The battle isn’t over yet though – and we’ll continue to fight.”