Insight

Where does Boris stand on business rates?

Poor old Boris – he’s not even got his bicycle clips off outside No 10 and people are already clamouring for his attention.

The Confederation of British Industry was first in line (they must have already got a press release drafted by a speedy marketeer) calling for Boris to deliver annual business rates revaluations, as part of its latest manifesto to “get the UK economy back on track”.

CBI boss Carolyn Fairbairn rightly points out that Brexit had stalled progress on the UK economy for the past three years and said the Prime Minister needed to address clear issues affecting businesses, including publishing a clear “road map” to allow for annual business rate evaluations.

The CBI’s own three-part “business manifesto” wants to see annual business rates revaluations (currently set to go to every three years as from 2021) to increase alignment between the tax and the economic cycle at Budget.

I am pretty sure that revisiting that particular issue will not be top of Boris’s in-tray but it’s not going away either. In May, Tesco chief executive Dave Lewis called on the government to impose a 2% online sales tax to help relieve the business rates burden on physical stores. In the same month, John Allan, chair of the big-four grocer, said business rates have become “uneconomical, unsustainable and unintelligible”.

Fairbairn’s other manifesto points relate to the Apprentice Levy and infrastructure investment but I’ll keep my comments firmly around to business rates and leave those subjects to other experts who want to pile the pressure on our new PM!

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