Reform business rates to save our High Streets retailers urge, as Chancellor prepares to scrap tax hikes

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Struggling High Street firms are calling for an urgent review of business rates to help them “get through the winter.”

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Retail and hospitality companies, including shops, restaurants and pubs, are facing skyrocketing costs and industry leaders say it’s a make-or-break week for Liz Truss and her government.

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She was forced to postpone the political blitz after becoming prime minister this month for a period of national mourning following the death of Queen Elizabeth II.

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Growth plan: On Friday, Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng will present a “growth plan” to Parliament, which is expected to eliminate the corporate tax increase and cancel the national insurance increase.

But Truss is now expected to kick off his premiership with a stimulus package to head off a wave of business closures and layoffs.

Business Secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg is expected to unveil a support package for businesses today that will cap electricity bills in a similar fashion to the previous announcement for households.

And on Friday, Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng will present to Parliament a so-called “growth plan” that is expected to scrap the corporate tax hike and reverse a controversial 1.25 percentage point National Insurance hike.

The announcements are part of a package aimed at stimulating the UK’s slumping economy, and Truss said yesterday that “lower taxes lead to economic growth.”

But despite expected tax cuts and support with energy bills, businesses are warning they are facing a “critical” situation with tens of thousands of firms at risk.

In a letter to the chancellor, the British Retail Consortium (BRC), which represents more than 200 major retailers, called for an immediate business rate freeze.

The already burdensome tax is set for an inflation-related increase that could add an extra £800m to retailers’ bills this year.

The BRC is also calling for fundamental tax reform to reduce the disproportionate burden retailers face.

“Rising costs are starting to affect prices,” BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said in a letter to Kwarteng.

“Consumer spending will be capped significantly this winter as inflation continues to rise and electricity bills continue to rise.”

The cry for help was supported by a separate coalition of major British retailers, including Tesco and B&Q owner Kingfisher.

The Retail Jobs Alliance (RJA) has called for an immediate tax freeze as well as an overhaul that would level the playing field between physical stores and their online competitors.

The alliance, which employs more than a million people, said the tax cut would “make a difference” with store closures and boost economic growth significantly.

And a poll by a lobbying group showed that if the tax was not changed, Truss could lose the next general election.

It emerged that a fifth of Conservative voters would leave the party in the next election without seeing “tangible improvements” in their main streets, marred by boarded-up shops after years of decline.

Meanwhile, a group of leaders representing pubs, bars, hotels and restaurants said that while capping energy prices would be a lifeline, more support is needed to keep the business alive.

UK Hospitality, the British Beer and Pub Association and the Real Ale Campaign have approached Kwarteng to cancel business rates until March.

They said: “These two measures, along with energy restrictions, will give our businesses an immediate respite to continue serving their communities this winter and avoid the unfolding disaster.”

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