Last week saw something we have been hoping for a long time; an inquiry was launched by the Treasury Committee to look into how the Government’s Business rates policies have affected business.
Of course, it’s rather long overdue – Rating professionals throughout the industry have been pleading for such a review for years in the hope that such a step would leave to a complete reform of the current system to incorporate regular revaluations, an effective reform of the appeals system and instant actions to prevent rises that are crippling retailers and businesses being slapped with higher rates charges than they deserve.
While we naturally welcome the news that an inquiry is finally taking place, we can’t help thinking that it’s another ‘too little, too late’ approach that will do nothing to save the hundreds of stores and businesses closing week by week.
For almost a decade now, the Government’s Business Rates system has been ineffective and has failed rates-payers throughout the country. Last year’s Budget was supposed to have a far-reaching impact on the retail sector, and while it made a difference to smaller independents, those larger forces found themselves lacking in support.
The ‘root and branch’ reform demands we’ve all been calling for may not yet be on the cards, but we have to be positive – this inquiry promises to assess the true impact on businesses, and if its findings are in line with those Rating professionals have reporting month-on-month, then perhaps there finally is the potential to see an entirely new approach put in place.