A group of retail industry leaders have signed a letter to Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak, demanding changes to the business rates system in the UK.

The letter – penned by Vivienne King, chair of The Shopkeepers’ Campaign and signed by 20 others –  calls “on the government to cut the Uniform Business Rate substantially and to overhaul the business rates system, to give our high streets and town centres a chance to survive”.

Read the letter below in full:

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Dear Chancellor,

There are many views on precisely how the business rates system should be reformed, but on this we are all united: the current business rates system is broken and there must now be fundamental change.

While the early proposed reforms for more frequent revaluations and greater transparency are positive steps in the right direction, they in themselves represent very limited reform against what is needed.

If there is no genuine reform of the business rates system, the occupation of commercial premises is going to become unaffordable to more businesses.  There will be more bankruptcies of well-known retail brands, more retrenchment by retailers which do survive, more closures of hospitality venues, more boarded-up shops, fewer start-ups and whole shopping centres abandoned. Many communities are being hit hard, with thousands of jobs being lost each year.

With the tax on occupying business premises too high, levels of lost investment in high streets, town and shopping centres risk dwarfing the amount of taxpayers’ money being spent by the government on smartening up town centres.

We are calling on the government to cut the Uniform Business Rate substantially and to overhaul the business rates system, to give our high streets and town centres a chance to survive.

Yours sincerely,

Vivienne King, Chair, The Shopkeepers’ Campaign (and 20 others)

Bill Addy, Chair, The BID Foundation

Alan Anthony, Operating Board Chair, Revo

Philip Bier, Co-Founder, Flying Tiger Copenhagen

Brian Brick, CEO, MossBros Group PLC

Helen Dickinson, CEO, British Retail Consortium

Morgan Garfield, Founding Partner, Ellandi

Gary Grant, Founder, The Entertainer

Lawrence Hutchings, Chief Executive, Capital and Regional

Kypros Kyprianou, Group CEO, Theo Paphitis Retail Group

Melanie Leech, CEO, British Property Federation

Allan Lockhart, CEO, NewRiver Retail

Ojay Macdonald, CEO, Association of Town and City Management

Dr Jackie Mulligan, CEO, ShopAppy

Scott Parsons, Chief Operating Officer UK, Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield

Jerry Schurder, Business Rates Policy Lead, Gerald Eve LLP

Hugh Seaborn, CEO, Cadogan Estate

Professor Chris Turner, Chief Executive British BIDs

Jace Tyrell, Chief Executive, New West End Company

Richard Walker, MD, Iceland

Mark Williams, Executive Director, Rivington Hark