What do you think? Retail group in call for a revised business rates system

 Norwich arcade is looking very Chrismassy

Norwich arcade is looking very Chrismassy - Credit: citizenside.com

A new business rates system that supports job creation and helps revive struggling high streets should be brought in to replace the current 'outdated and cumbersome' framework, ministers have been told.

The system could also be re-designed to encourage energy efficiency by basing payments on energy usage, according to the plans from the British Retail Consortium (BRC).

They have been produced by members of the BRC together with accountants Ernst & Young ahead of a discussion document on business rates due to be published by the government in the spring.

The body said it hoped the proposals would stimulate debate on reform that 'goes beyond tinkering with the existing system'.

Business groups have long argued that the current framework of rates discourages investment and is desp-erately in need of modernisation.

The BRC proposals include: shifting the basis for taxing property by replacing the current system with a tax based on other measures, such as energy usage; and rewarding job creation by offering a discount on the rates bill.

They also suggest easing the burden on successful businesses by offering a discount to businesses based on the corporation tax they are paying.

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Finally, they call for a new, simplified, banded revaluation system for assessing rates, with revaluations on a more regular basis.

Rates are currently based on rental valuations set in 2008, when the cost of renting a shop or an office in many parts of the UK was far higher than yesterday.

It comes as Norfolk and Suffolk business, as well as a number of Norfolk county councillors, held a business rates summit at County Hall last month, when they agreed to lobby high-streets minister and Great Yarmouth MP Brandon Lewis over the cost facing businesses.

Helen Dickinson, BRC director-general, said: 'We have a once-in-a generation chance to fundamentally change the business rates system and the time is right to think creatively and in the best long-term economic interests of the UK.

'These potential options would be good for the public, the economy and businesses small and large, while still providing significant tax revenues for the government.'

Have you got a business story for the EDP? Email ben.woods@archant.co.uk