Rising business rates are just one of many extra costs hitting high street retailers

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The revaluation of commercial properties for business rate calculations is making headlines in the UK, but it is only one of many costs that are rising for British retailers, according to the Forum of Private Businesses.

“We are being told by members that they are under increasing pressure, as the costs of trading rise at a faster rate than their sales. They are coping with a number of relatively new costs, such as auto enrolment, the living wage, digital tax changes, and a weaker pound forcing up costs already, and the impact of increased business rates will be the final straw for some,” says Ian Cass, chief executive of the Forum.

Commenting on the BBC’s Radio Five today, Mr Cass, emphasised that it is frequently the smaller high street businesses that are the drivers of regeneration.

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Citing the Northern Quarter in Manchester, and Shoreditch in London as just two locations where independent shops, bars and restaurants have been the catalyst for recovery and growth, he criticised the regulations that are now becoming a burden to those very businesses.

“Independent businesses lack the economies of scale that their bigger competitors have, and neither do they enjoy the rebates available to charities. They are the barometer of a healthy high street, and the current broken taxation model threatens to kill off the diversity in our high street. The Business Rate changes are just a part of the problem,” he claims.

Calling on the Government to act, he said: “As the Government embarks upon its Industrial Strategy, and as we get Britain trading, real attention needs paying to the incentivisation for small businesses to come to, and remain in, the high street, as opposed to bringing in costs and regulations that will drive them away. The Forum is committed to supporting independent and family businesses. We look to the Government to do the same.”

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