Slash business rates to save High Street, says Next boss

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Business rates for High Street retail stores should be slashed by 35%, according to the boss of one of the UK’s biggest retail chains Next. 

Lord Simon Wolfson says that unless the government sets rates at a level that is fair, a huge number of shops will have to close unnecessarily. 

He said the current system was “unfair” to bricks and mortar retailers, many of whom are struggling in the pandemic.

The Treasury said it is conducting a “fundamental review” of the system.

Mr Wolfson told the BBC the value of High Street retail properties had fallen dramatically in the crisis “but the business rates bill hasn’t reflected that”. 

He used his own experience at Next as an example. “In-store sales at Next have gone down 25% since 2015 but our rates on those properties have gone up 9%. They have become unfair because they no longer reflect the value property against which they’re charged”

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