Business rates policy ‘boosting supermarkets at expense of high street shops’

Business rates policy ‘boosting supermarkets at expense of high street shops’

Bill Grimsey, the former boss of Iceland and Wickes, has claimed the Government’s decision to postpone a revaluation of business rates will save Britain’s biggest supermarkets £1.3bn in tax, while small retailers battle for survival.

Mr Grimsey has made the new criticism against the Coalition’s business rates policy on the eve of an appearance in front of MPs to discuss the future of the high street.

Mr Grimsey conducted an independent review into Britain’s retail industry and will discuss his findings with the Business, Innovation and Skills Committee on Tuesday.

Michael Fallon, the Business Minister, and Brandon Lewis, the High Streets Minister, are also due to give evidence.

According to Mr Grimsey, the postponement of the business rates revaluation until 2017 means that the operators of supermarkets and hypermarkets, such as Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons, will save £620m in the 2015/16 financial year, and £639m in 2016/2017.

This is because the value of property in the food retail sector is likely to have increased compared to the last valuation in 2008, while the value of high street shops has fallen.

Mr Grimsey’s estimates are based on date from the Valuation Office Agency and forecasts from property agents about the value of supermarkets.

He said: “All the evidence suggests that small businesses, many of which are really struggling at the moment, are going to be subsidising the big four supermarkets as a result of the Government’s decision to postpone the business rates revaluation. That cannot be right and it can’t be fair.”

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