The FPJ  reports that business rates increased by 4.6% in 2011 and will rise again by 5.6% this year. Its focus was on the effect on greengrocers in particular.

Greengrocer Christopher Bavin, warned: “The correlation between rent and rates has now completely fallen out of kilter, and with every utility from transport and wages to waste management all going up, a business rate increase would be the kiss of death”.

The British Retail Consortium’s director general, Stephen Robertson, said : “The Chancellor should have removed the threat of a further £175 million rate increase next April to avoid more empty shops; this issue needs tackling urgently”. added:

“An overwhelming three quarters of MPs say trading costs should be brought under control as a way of halting high street decline. Two thirds believe high streets in their constituencies have deteriorated noticeably over the last five years. Populus polling for the British Retail Consortium, which is also publishing a new audit of the state of UK high streets today (Monday), shows a business rates freeze next year is backed by two thirds of MPs, with more than one in five agreeing ‘strongly’. Support was equally high among Conservative and Labour MPs.

“A business rates freeze is essential to offer immediate relief, but there is much more still to be done if high streets are to go on providing jobs and services.

“If action isn’t taken the cost of that failure will be borne by communities across the country in the form of more boarded up premises and an acceleration of the downward spiral that’s gripping too many town centres.”