UK commercial property taxes are the highest in the OECD. Retailers want to see fundamental reform of Wales’s annual business rates system in order to support investment, business growth and help revive our high streets, where one in every seven premises is vacant.
We are pleased the devolved administration heeded our calls and held a review into business rates, most recently under the stewardship of Chris Sutton. The WRC is calling for an innovative and creative approach to business rates in Wales; a fundamentally reformed rates system which flexes with economic and trading conditions and leads to a substantially lower tax burden would increase retailers’ confidence about investing in new and refurbished shop premises and help revive high streets and town centres.
In the short to medium term it is essential that the business rates multiplier is frozen and that business confidence is not shattered by any dramatic rise for retailers of any size. We’re hopeful that this outdated and anachronistic tax system will be reformed in the long run; for now, we need to ensure it doesn’t jeopardise future investment by our retailers, who constitute Wales’s largest private-sector employer.