Bira’s business rates reform plan unveiled at the House of Commons

In advance of the Chancellor’s November Budget, the British Independent Retailers Association (bira) secured an audience with a host of MPs at the House of Commons earlier this week to launch its business rates reform plan. Some nine MPs attended the launch, headed by Geoffrey Clifton Brown, Conservative MP for the Cotswolds.

The ‘movers and shakers’ behind bira’s proposal include (front row left to right) Vin Vara (The Toolshop Group), Jeff Moody (bira direct), Fiona Cuthbertson (Keystone Consulting and bira’s Policy Advisor), Alan Hawkins (bira), Andrew Goodacre (bira), Surinder Josan (All Seasons DIY and bira National President), Duncan Mackay (Mackays of Cambridge), Sadie Chalkley (J G Banfield and Sons).
The ‘movers and shakers’ behind bira’s proposal include (front row left to right) Vin Vara (The Toolshop Group), Jeff Moody (bira direct), Fiona Cuthbertson (Keystone Consulting and bira’s Policy Advisor), Alan Hawkins (bira), Andrew Goodacre (bira), Surinder Josan (All Seasons DIY and bira National President), Duncan Mackay (Mackays of Cambridge), Sadie Chalkley (J G Banfield and Sons).

Bira asked MPs to consider changing the current £12,000 threshold to an allowance, as a much-needed short-term solution. It is bira’s belief that an allowance would help the majority of small businesses and make the difference between closing or surviving in 2018 and beyond.

The fact that the association managed to secure the ears of those in power is certainly impressive and has gone down well with its independent greeting card members as reported by PG Buzz last week.

Warren Lomax, joint managing director of Max Publishing (which owns PG Buzz and Progressive Greetings) was invited to attend the meeting at the House of Commons. Commenting on the meeting, Warren said: “I really admire bira’s attempt to get a business rate allowance introduced. It is all too easy to whinge about the state of the high street, but bira is attempting to get some kind of practical help implemented as soon as possible and hopefully the government will head their advice take on board their proposals.”

If adopted, bira’s proposal will provide much-needed relief to Britain’s high streets.
If adopted, bira’s proposal will provide much-needed relief to Britain’s high streets.

Retailers pay nearly one quarter of the collective business rates bill, some £7 billion annually, far more than any other industry. With business rates not being charged on a business’ profitability, it is bira and its members’ contention that this creates a system that fails to place the burden of taxation on those that are most able to pay.

Alan Hawkins, CEO of bira said: “While the Government offered some help to smaller businesses in the last revaluation, by doubling the Small Business Rates Relief threshold from £6,000 to £12,000, (and tapered relief up to £15,000) this doesn’t help the majority of retailers, who on average have a rateable value of £34,000.”

Geoffrey Clifton Brown MP, who is championing the campaign said: “I was extremely impressed and encouraged by bira’s proposal. It offers a simple and practical method, which would bring instant relief to many thousands of hard pressed retailers, who are the back bone of our country.”

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