Commenting on the High Street Review launched today (Tuesday) by Mary Portas, Adam Marshall, Director of Policy at the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), said:

“Businesses play an important part in local communities, and the high street is no different. The high street provides important services, jobs and economic vitality for many areas across the UK. If businesses in high streets are able to expand and develop their premises more easily, and attract more customers, then they can help towns and cities flourish, and in turn contribute to the recovery.

“Business rates are a significant barrier for many businesses, and could damage our high streets. The 5.6% increase in rates planned for April is pegged to last September’s peak inflation figure, and will be difficult for many retailers, already squeezed by a fall in consumer spending. We support Mary Portas’ call for councils to use more discretion when applying rates, particularly for start up companies. If the government wants to see businesses flourish and create much-needed economic growth, it must go further and reduce the punishing, anti-growth rate rise facing all businesses in 2012.”