Sunak to delay review of business rates until autumn

Sunak’s delay comes as Next’s chief executive has called for business rates in high street stores to be cut by 35% to prevent unnecessary closures

Chancellor Rishi Sunak is set to reveal that he will delay a final report on the review of business rates until later this year. 

According to The Financial Times, the delay of the report, which was set to consider the introduction of an online sales tax, comes as the chancellor wants to make the decision once the economic uncertainty surrounding the pandemic has decreased. 

Nonetheless, it is suspected that Sunak will look to extend business rates relief for another financial year as part of the March Budget, after the Scottish government announced a similar plan on 16 February. 

The business rates holiday, which was first introduced last year as a lifeline to retail and hospitality property owners, is currently set to end on 31 March. 

Sunak’s delay comes as Next chief executive, Lord Simon Wolfson, has called for business rates in highstreet stores to be cut by 35% to prevent unnecessary closures. 

Wolfson, told the BBC that the current system in place was “unfair” to traditional retailers who were struggling due to current restrictions. 

Drawing on his own experience the retail chief revealed that in-store sales at Next had dropped 25% since 2015, but the rates on those properties have risen by 9%. He added that the value of high street retail properties had fallen significantly since the crisis “but the business rates bill hasn’t reflected that”.

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