UK retailers ‘sold out’ by chancellor’s Autumn Statement, says BRC

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) has criticised the chancellor’s decision to raise the business rates standard multiplier set out in his Autumn Statement, warning that the move will cost retailers hundreds of millions of pounds every year.

Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the BRC, said that retailers and their customers have been “sold out” by Jeremy Hunt’s Statement, adding that as the industry enters the Christmas period it will only serve to “renew inflationary pressures”.

“The chancellor has poured fuel on the fire spreading across our high streets with a tax hike on shops and other businesses,” said Dickinson. “His decision to increase the business rates standard multiplier will cost retailers hundreds of millions every year.

“Rather than introduce the meaningful reforms that were promised in the Government’s 2019 manifesto, the Chancellor is now letting the tax spiral out of control, driving up costs just as retailers’ efforts to curb inflation have started to bear fruit. This tax hike comes at a time when retail sales volumes have hit their lowest level in two years. Yet business rates must be paid in full before a business sells a single product or service.”

The move comes after the organisation joined a coalition of retail, leisure, and hospitality organisations which called on Hunt to freeze the business rates multiplier and extend existing reliefs for a further year at the upcoming Autumn Statement.

A letter from the coalition, which also includes UKHospitality, the Association of Convenience Stores, the British Independent Retail Association and ukactive, warned that businesses, jobs and “the future of High Streets” would be at risk without the measures.

The coalition’s letter highlighted that energy prices remained at “historically high levels” while businesses in its labour-intensive sectors continue to see high wage and input costs.

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