Policy Exchange calls for freeze of high street biz rates

gosborneCampaigners are continuing to put pressure on the Government to freeze business rates.

Think-tank, Policy Exchange, has become the latest organisation to call for the measures in a bid to save the high street and keep shops open, urging heads of the country to put in place a two year freeze on business rates.

It hopes that this will encourage retailers to keep shops open and help smaller companies afford their rents as well help them deal with competition from online stores who can offer cheaper prices as a result of no store fronts.

Yesterday the BRC published its latest figures, which showed empty stores remained a problem with the national town centre vacancy rate in the UK standing at 11.9 in April, up from 10.9 percent in January 2013 and marking the highest rate since the BRC survey began in July 2011.

A separate report by the Local Data Company (LDC) found that the percentage of empty shops in the country’s 650 most popular high streets nationally hit 14.2 percent – roughly 35,500 vacant properties – in December.

Policy Exchanges’ calls come months after the BRC threw down the gauntlet to George Osborne, urging him to use the budget to save the flagging high street.

Ahead of the Chancellors’ Budget speech in March, the organisation urged him to intervene to support jobs and growth by freezing business rates as well as cut  utility bills to help businesses stay on premises.

* Oxford’s famous Covered Market is threatened by huge rises in rates. There is a petition to save it, here.