A freeze on business rates, increased free town centre parking and safeguards around access to cash and banking, must be put in place to help struggling businesses on the high street.
The burden of rising rates bills and ever-increasing rents, coupled with soaring employment costs and pressure from online retailers and out of town shopping centres, are all creating a perfect storm in our town centres.
FSB has set out new recommendations in five key areas, which should be targeted by policymakers to provide an urgent lifeline for the sector in England.
- Create fairer business rates bills for high streets and beyond
- Build an easy and simple system for businesses to appeal rates bills
- Abolish the rate relief rule that penalises small business expansion into additional premises
- Create more free parking and invest in the maintenance of local road networks, which support local high streets and their customers
- Put in place measures to safeguard access to cash and banking services
Mike Cherry, National Chairman at the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), said:
“It’s clear the pressure is mounting. Spiralling business rates and ever-increasing rents are piling on to small retailers, hospitality businesses and others on the high street. The high cost of town centre parking, poor infrastructure, the blight of potholes and the loss of vital banking services are also ramping up the pressure.
“We know that small business owners are resilient and are used to adapting to market forces. But we want to see Government and local authorities come together to look at real solutions to these issues so that our high streets are not only able to survive, but to thrive.
“We’ve set out five key areas to be targeted, from tackling ever-increasing business rates bills and simplifying the way bills can be appealed, to calling on local councils to increase the amount of free town centre parking.”
The recommendations include a raft of interventions to the current, outdated business rates system in England.
As well as a freeze on rates from April 2019, when the next inflation-linked rise is due, FSB is calling for a £1,000 business rates discount for local shops, cafes, restaurants and pubs, to provide a shot in the arm for high streets.