In a letter to now former chancellor Sajid Javid, which was signed by retailers including Debenhams, Harrods, John Lewis, Marks and Spencer, Primark and River Island, the BRC said the “burden of business rates has become unsustainable for many retailers” and called the current system “broken”.
It added that scrapping downwards phasing would remove the “harmful effects” transitional relief has on retailers and businesses in the North of England and could be achieved by central funding of upwards transitional relief.
Now, Mike Ashley’s Frasers group has released a statement publicly backing the campaign and claims some if its stores are paying bills up to four times over what they expect.
The statement said: “With the UK high street on life support, the time for reform has long since passed. Transitional relief in particular is disastrous for a great many retailers and needs to be significantly modified to at least ensure the correct amount of rates are paid by the end of transitional relief periods.
“The current system whereby downward transitions of just a few percent a year means that the correct amount is never reached or even close to, punishes those in greatest need of relief.”
It continued: “Within the Frasers Group itself we have some stores paying up to four times the rates bills they should be. This kind of pattern clearly cannot be right and is no doubt repeated widely across UK retail; it is a significant contributor to the dire straits the high street currently finds itself in.”