Autumn Statement: High Street bosses welcome business rate reform

Sir Ian Cheshire and Justin King believe moves could save the high street

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The Independent Online

High Street grandees Sir Ian Cheshire and Justin King have welcomed the chancellor’s plans for a root and branch reform of business rates.

The Kingfisher chief executive and the former boss of Sainsbury’s have both been leading campaigns for an overhaul of the tax system which every commercial premises has to pay, but which has been criticised for leaving bricks-and-mortar retailers paying higher taxes than their online competitors.

Cheshire told the Standard: “It is important that it is enshrined that there is a full root-and-branch review. We all need to re-examine how we tax businesses to get the right outcome.

“As long as it is truly a root and branch outcome we will be happy.”

King added: “It’s a tax designed in another century that is no longer fit for purpose. I don’t think anyone is calling for a reduction in the tax burden but it needs to be shared equally.

“The issue remains of how substantial the review is. If it’s in 2016 and it will be a fundamental review, that will be applauded. If it takes until then and brings about changes that will benefit businesses for the next 20 years that it will be worth waiting for.”

Osborne also capped next year’s annual rate rise at two per cent - something he had already done this year – rather than raising it in line with inflation. A £1,000 discount to smaller businesses was also increased to £1,500.

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