High street Birmingham

The BRC has called for a roadmap for the replacement of the business rates system to be in place by 2017.

The group admits the government does not have enough time to draw up an alternative structure before the next budget.

In its official response to the Treasury review, the consultation for which ends this week, the consortium recognises it is will take longer to come up with a fairer tax for retailers than the March 2016 Budget, by which time the government has promised to come up with “radical proposals” for change.

However, the BRC urges ministers to produce a clear way forward for the replacement of what it described as a system “not fit for purpose in the 21st century” which could then be moved to in phases from 2017 onwards.

The BRC response says the government should commit to “a vision for the role and structure of business rates which includes whether the tax should be based on property or not” by March 2016.

It also calls on the government to conduct further independent research in the run up to the next budget.

“We recognise this will take time but believe the government should define a roadmap for reform to be in place by 2017,” says the response.

“Whilst fundamental reform is the ultimately goal, there are a number of measures which could be taken over the next six months to alleviate the impact of the current system.”

These including moving to more frequent evaluations (every three years” and remove the annual uplift until April 2017.

With its major supermarkets members this year paying a massive £700,000 a year on average in rates, per store, the BRC has found itself at odds with some industry bodies, such as the ACS, which yesterday said the government should keep a property based tax, although it too has called for major changes.