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Manifesto pledge on business rates is just more of the same

I have really tried to avoid writing about the looming general election but after belatedly reading the Conservative Manifesto I had to highlight a paragraph that related to business rates.

The Conservative party seems to be responding to concerns about business rates in its manifesto promising more frequent revaluations of rateable values and another full review of the system.

But if another full review is needed before the ink is even dry on the last one isn’t that admitting the recent consultations were a complete waste of time and effort for all concerned?

With everything else that is going on right now – security, Trident, dementia tax and Diane Abbott’s car crash interview on police funding – the promise of another business rates review has barely raised a media eyebrow, but it should.

Promises of more frequent revaluations are being welcomed broadly but I can’t help but think another review so soon – either by the Conservatives or Labour – will just be a huge waste of time, effort, online questionnaires and lobbyist’ invoices.

A lot of retailers and firms will welcome the notion of another review but I for one do not relish the idea. I saw an article recently that talked about record shops struggling with business rates and calling for changes but I think it was the sub-editor just itching to use the headline “Vinyl Countdown” that got it the column inches.

Looking back over the recent history of business rates I am starting to lose count of how many times businesses have been invited to give their views – certainly no less than five full or partial reviews in the last four years.

We simply don’t need more consultations, we need a government with vision and a backbone to push through reforms without attaching caveats, postponements and reviews at every turn.

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