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Property expert in attack on rates call.

Byline: Jon Griffin Business Editor

A KEY blueprint for reform of the business rates system has been written 'by accountants for accountants,' says a Birmingham property expert.

City-based John Webber, Head of Rating at global property company Colliers International, says the British Retail Consortium's (BRC) paper on the proposed reform of the regime could usher in an even more complex system. "We agree with the BRC in that the business rates system is becoming a significant burden to retail businesses. However, the BRC's suggested reforms are far too narrow and could result in the introduction of an even more complex system than we have already," he said.

"In three of the four measures they set out in their paper they describe 'complexity' as being an area of concern."

"We don't need a more complex business rates system. We need a re-basing of the total amount raised from Business Rates; a review of an RPI linked taxation model; an embracing of new technology to facilitate more regular revaluations and a greater appreciation of retailers' changing business models as trade shifts from brick to clicks.

"Research shows that retailers in England outside London would have saved PS233 million in 2015 and 2016, if the 2015 Rating Revaluation had gone ahead.

"The existing system is successful for the Exchequer because it's a property-based tax; if you begin to link the tax to other things, like energy use and employee headcount, it will only serve to dilute the effectiveness and ultimately benefit those that can work the system, leaving small business a loser once again.

"This paper misses the point. It appears to have been written by accountants for accountants and it takes an accountant to make something complicated out of something that could be very simple," added Mr Webber.
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Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:Feb 24, 2014
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