According to the commercial real estate intelligence firm Altus Group, under 14 years of the Conservative government, revenue from business rates, the controversial devolved property tax, has risen by £9.48 billion a year up 49% from the £19.28 billion net yield during 2010/11 in England to £28.76 billion forecasted to be collected during this financial year.

President of Property Tax at Altus Group, Alex Probyn, said “the average pub, restaurant, shop, office and factory are now paying £4,714 a year more in the business rates tax than in 2010 through the cumulative effects of increasing the tax rates by inflation.”

Probyn added “the choice to increase the standard rate of tax by 6.7% left firms in April left firms with the biggest year-on-year increase in the standard rate business rates since 1991 at an effective tax rate of 54.6%.”

In November 2023 chancellor Jeremy Hunt extended the 75% business rates relief until 2025.

Hunt also froze the Small Business Multiplier, which will affect some operators, but the Standard Multiplier – where a business’ rateable value is £51,000 or more – will rise with inflation.

The Conservatives have in their manifesto pledged a £4.3bn of business rates support for small businesses over the next five years and to “continue to ease the burden of business rates for high street, leisure and hospitality businesses” by increasing the multiplier on distribution warehouses that support online shopping over time.

However, BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson claimed the manifesto “fails to take the bull by the horns, leaving many ongoing challenges, from business rates to apprenticeships, without clear solutions”.

She said: “With business rates now at a record high of 54.6p in the pound, the Conservative promise to ‘continue to ease the burden of business rates’ for businesses on the high street will ring hollow to many retailers.

“Despite previous promises to reform the broken business rates system, we continue to see empty shops around the country that have fallen prey to sky high rates. And while the full details of the proposals to offset high street business rates by raising rates for warehousing would need to be seen, it is hard to see it as a viable solution given the wide range of retailers that sell goods online as well as from stores.”