high street shops

Business rates a solution

Sir, I read, with interest, your story on the high street facing “annihilation” (9 June, p5).

In 2011 the coalition government introduced the Localism Act to strengthen very limited powers for councils to give businesses discounts on their rates bills, promising a powerful mechanism to encourage entrepreneurship and incentivise growth.

Yet, despite the ongoing crisis engulfing our high streets, this year councils in England are planning just £21m in additional help, the exact amount as the year before, despite revenue from business rates rising by 3.5% overall up £847m to £24.8bn.

The amount available separately under the government’s four-year discretionary relief fund reduced by half this year to £85m.

In certain areas with unique challenges, it may require councils taking a cut in business rates from businesses that they believe will help become or continue to become “destinations” and deliver footfall.

While that might mean a reduction in their rates pot today, longer term it will deliver far greater economic and social benefits.

Robert Hayton, head of business rates, Altus Group

E-labelling the way ahead

Sir, If we are what we eat, we had better be 100% sure we know what is on the end of our forks. The drive for transparency and traceability in food labelling has never been stronger, and although clean labelling is making in-roads on the high street, the next stage will be the widespread usage of e-label technology. QR codes on food products can show shoppers allergens, GMO status, farm of origin, ethical credentials, green benefits and the brand’s CSR efforts. For the consumer, e-labelling means more traceability, transparency and trust. For the producer, it means more upselling and engagement with younger, eco-savvy consumers.

Colin Elkins, global industry director for process manufacturing, IFS

Veg needs innovation

Sir, It is fantastic to see that The Food Foundation’s Veg Power crowdfunding campaign has exceeded its £100k target (thegrocer.co.uk, 12 June). The initiative is an important step towards solving the nation’s health crisis.

However, more needs to be done. The nation has been using veg in the same way for hundreds of years, so innovation within the market is imperative to further support the crusade. Creating new and exciting products full of the good stuff is key to changing the nation’s attitude towards veg.

Jon Barfoot, co-founder, Vegbred