Warwick and Leamington MP calling business rates reform following news of House of Fraser closures

Warwick and Leamington MP Matt Western.
Warwick and Leamington MP Matt Western.

Warwick and Leamington MP Matt Western is calling for reform of the business rates system to ease the burden on high streets and town centres following the announcement of the House of Fraser closures.

Earlier today the list of proposed closures for 31 House of Fraser stores was revealed and Leamington’s store, which is on the Parade, was on the list.

MP Matt Western is raising concerns about the current unfairness of business rates and the challenges facing retailers on UK high streets following the announcement.

According to the MP, the current system of business rates currently favour out of town sites.

Recent studies suggest an average of 16 high street stores closed every day in 2017, driven away by falling demand and rising overheads.

Many are abandoning their physical stores to go online, where business rates do not apply.

Matt Western said: “The closure of Leamington’s House of Fraser is devastating news for the many employees and their families in our area.

“The retail sector urgently needs a level playing field, not the sticking plaster of the Government’s Portas- style projects.

“Small and medium sized businesses are the cornerstone of our economy and are under immense pressure from unfair business rates and a difficult environment for high street retail.

“Our town centres need greater support from Government and local authorities, and this desperate news and underlines just how vulnerable our town centres currently are.”

Mr Western is calling for fundamental reform of the business rates system to ease the burden on high streets and town centres in the age of online shopping.

According to Mr Western, policies such as bringing forward CPI indexation so that businesses are not paying more because of how inflation is measured and excluding new investment in plant and machinery from future business rates valuation could help support high street businesses.