Business rates are one of the most important taxes for local government, yet our current system has come under huge scrutiny in recent years. This much-maligned tax has been blamed for the struggles of retailers, the death of the high street and for exacerbating the country’s economic divides.
Responding to this criticism, the Chancellor is reviewing the current business rates system. In response to this review this briefing sets out the problems with business rates as they are, and makes proposals for a reformed system that would support cities and towns in improving their businesses environments, raise productivity and boost prosperity.
The report identifies four fundamental problems with business rates:
We have set out eleven proposals for reforming of business rates in a way that addresses each of these issues.
These recommendations are inspired by changes made the Dutch business rates in the 1990s, which faced very similar challenges to those that the English system faces today. The Dutch experience, which is referred to throughout this briefing, demonstrates that it is possible to successfully reform a centralised, slow and cumbersome business rates system and turn it into a more responsive and fair tax that considers actual local conditions and rewards local economic growth.