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"Rising business rates cause carnage on the high street"

Link to The Observer

"Ron Wooden and Angela Forder have run Lesley's Florist for 10 years. They have had to cut staff hours because the closure of many local businesses has led to a fall in lunchtime trade. Wooden said:
"If rates were brought down, it would create more jobs in the town, which could be what's needed to get Ashford thriving again."
"However, it is not just Ashford that is suffering; the bleak picture is repeated across town centres up and down the country. Springboard, which monitors footfall and vacancy levels, said the number of empty shops had increased 1% in the last year and was now nearly 12%.

"And where high street retailers once pointed the finger solely at the internet for their demise, they are increasingly blaming business rates, claiming these leave new stores unable to open, and existing retailers unwilling to expand.

"The issue is so serious that the British Retail Consortium is calling it the biggest problem now facing retail. Helen Dickinson, the director general of the BRC, has summoned 25 chief finance officers and tax experts from the biggest retailers to her offices in central London to thrash out how to tackle the issue."

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