Mar 5, 2021

Business rates relief ‘near worthless’ for big retailers, says Frasers

Mike Ashley's Frasers Group has lashed out at the UK Budget, arguing that a cap on business rates relief will make it "Nearly impossible" for the retailer to rescue the Debenhams stores that it had been circling. Chancellor Rishi Sunak this week announced that business rates would remain discounted by two-thirds for the remainder of the year, although the relief would be capped at £2m for closed businesses. Sunak has promised to "Level the playing field" between online retailers and the high street but last month delayed the conclusion of a business rates review, which is considering the case for an online sales tax, until the autumn. The business rates system, a tax on the occupancy of properties used for commercial purposes, would in a normal year raise about £25bn in England. It estimates that the extension to the business rates holiday, which some essential retailers have opted out of in order to pay dividends, will cost the government £3bn. Altus estimates that the business rates relief will have saved Frasers roughly £91.2m in England and Wales in the financial year to March 31.

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