Inflation drop increases threat of ‘onerous’ business rate rises

Paul Faulkner

Business leaders in Greater Birmingham yesterday urged the government to reform “onerous and outmoded” business rates.

This followed the announcement that inflation fell more than expected in September after hitting a six-month high in August.

Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce (GBCC) welcomed the prospect of no interest rate rises in the next six months but warned that the result will mean business rate rises in the spring. They rise every year in line with September’s inflation figure and, based on these results, the British Retail Consortium expects them to go up by £180m.

The Office for National Statistics said the fall to 2.4 per cent, down from 2.7 per cent, was largely driven by lower prices for food and non-alcoholic drinks.

Paul Faulkner (pictured), the GBCC’s chief executive, said: “Coupled with positive news regarding wage growth, it was pleasing to see inflationary pressure ease as we head into the autumn – hopefully both developments will ease the squeeze on household budgets.

“The announcement is also likely to dampen any prospect of an interest rate rise in the next six months as Mark Carney, governor of the Bank of England, will no doubt reassure us that inflation levels are edging closer to their two per cent target.

“Nevertheless, the result also confirms a sobering fact – business rates will be going up from next spring.

“Our latest Quarterly Business Report reveals that local firms are increasing affected by this onerous tax and we urge the Government to use the upcoming autumn statement to announce measures to reform this outmoded system and ease the burden on businesses up and down the country.

“We will be discussing this topic and others at the launch event for our latest Quarterly Business Report – I would urge local businesses to attend and share their views on these vital developments.”

To book onto QBR event, click here.