UKHospitality backs high street report’s call for business rates review

hospitality review

UKHospitality has welcomed calls in the second Grimsey Review for a “root and branch” overview of business rates.

Bill Grimsey, the former boss of Wickes, Iceland and Focus DIY, launched his second review of the high street today, in the wake of a dramatic wave of closures and Company Voluntary Agreements (CVAs).

Within the report Grimsey argues that bricks and mortar retailing can no longer be “the anchor for thriving high streets and town centres”, suggesting these areas are repopulated as community hubs incorporating health, housing, arts, education, entertainment, leisure, business or office space, as well as some shops.

He also sets out a series of reforms to create sustainable high streets, which raises the desperate need for business rates reform.

In the report Grimsey said: “Accept that there is no confidence, in business rates, it is accelerating shop closures in many towns and is an outdated and unfair tax that needs a major overhaul. An immediate independent review should look to replace it with either a land/area/ property value or sales tax.”

UKHospitality responded to the second Grimsey Review by reiterating its call for the government to honour a manifesto commitment for a root and branch review of the business rates system and for extensions and increases on discretionary and pub reliefs.

Kate Nicholls, CEO, said: “The bricks and mortar businesses, particularly customer-focused venues, are increasingly paying the price for a digital economy that does not pay its fair share of taxes and is under-regulated.

“Hospitality is the third largest private sector employer in the UK, double the size of financial services and bigger than automotive, pharmaceuticals and aerospace combined. It has played a key part in helping the economy through tough times. Our venues are at the heart of communities across Britain but are increasingly at threat from a plethora of property and employment costs.

“Eating and drinking venues are the heartbeat of high streets and town centres but are being disproportionately hit by business rates. We have already seen about 6,000 job losses in hospitality this year and it’s no coincidence – unless action is taken that figure will keep rising.