Shops can now vote on higher rates

A new legal requirement to have a business vote in favour before the introduction of any Business Rates Supplement is being hailed as good news for retailers.

Shops can now vote on higher rates

This week’s Government’s Localism Bill makes it obligatory for English local councils outside London to poll businesses and secure majority support before any BRS is introduced.

Since April this year councils have had the power to add up to 5% to businesses’ rates bills to fund local economic development and infrastructure projects. But the British Retail Consortium has been fighting for compulsory business ballots to ensure they are only able to do that for projects that have business support.

It had feared that BRS could be applied for purposes beyond delivering specific projects with a clear benefit for the businesses footing the bill.

BRC director general Stephen Robertson described the introduction of compulsory business ballots as “a major victory for the BRC on behalf of vulnerable retailers big and small. It would be fundamentally undemocratic to put extra taxes on local businesses without establishing their views first and assessing the potential impact on jobs.”

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