Fears over business rate review delay following political upheavals

The exhaustive business rate review may face another delay following the recent ministerial reshuffle (not to mention proroguing Parliament).

The British Retail Consortium, supported by nine other trade bodies, has written to the Treasury Select Committee asking the MPs to publish the results of their business rates inquiry before the autumn budget – six months after the committee began the review, back in February.

They fear that all the months of engagement over the issues will have been wasted if the findings aren’t made public before the next Budget and looming Brexit deadline of October 31st.

The findings were originally due to be published next month but four out of 12 committee members have since departed into new roles. Chair Nicky Morgan joined the cabinet as Culture Secretary with Colin Clark and Simon Clarke becoming ministers. If that wasn’t enough upheaval on the committee, Dover MP Charlie Elphicke was removed after being charged with sexual assault earlier this summer.

It will take ten days to elect Ms Morgan’s successor and with only nine parliamentary sitting days in September, most industry watchers are expecting a delay – much to the retail lobbyists frustration.

Campaigning alongside the BRC, the Association of Convenience Stores chief executive, James Lowman, said: “The time for talk about fixing the business rates system has now passed, we need action and real change, and the Treasury Select Committee is ideally placed to propose and interrogate ideas for making the system fairer and more effective.”

Watch this space…

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