High Street

Mike Ashley warns PM of rates review delay

Retail tycoon Mike Ashley has reportedly written to prime minister Boris Johnson warning of the “disastrous consequences” if the government doesn’t conduct a review of the current business rates system. 

According to The Times, in a joint letter with Fraser CFO Chris Wootton, Ashley warned that without action he believes “the exchequer is putting the jobs of a significant percentage of the UK workforce at risk”. 

He reportedly said that the “crippling impact” of business rates means that firms entering insolvency “cannot feasibly return”.   

The pair also reportedly requested a 10-minute call with the PM at “any time of the day or night” to discuss the issue. 

The government previously revealed that it would delay a revaluation for the tax until 2023. Currently business rate bills are based on property values from 2015.

The news comes after a series of high street casualties in recent months due to the impact of the coronavirus. 

Last week, M&S revealed its plan to axe 7,000 roles across the business over the next three months. 

The group confirmed the launch of a multi-level streamlining programme that will see redundancies in its central support centre, regional management, and UK stores.

Also this month, embattled department store chain Debenhams has cut 2,500 staff roles. 

The retailer said that the job cuts, believed to be across both its retail and warehouse staff, have been made in order to give the company “every chance of a viable future”.

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