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Tesco, Greggs and Marks and Spencer bosses write to chancellor

Some of Britain's biggest retailers have written to the chancellor requesting a freeze to business rates. The 44 signatories include the bosses of Tesco, Greggs M&S and B&Q - who say an inflation-based hike would add £400m to their bills and "threaten the viability of many shops" In the letter they added: "Global supply chain issues are already likely to increase costs in the months ahead, including Russia's withdrawal from the Black Sea Grain Initiative and targeting of Ukrainian grain silos, plus restrictions on Indian rice exports and ongoing labour market challenges. "Against this backdrop, the government should not make the situation worse by adding significantly to our cost base - freezing the business rates multiplier at its current level would avoid this." An inflation-linked rise to business rates would have been due to take place in April this year but was frozen by the government.

Retail leaders have written to chancellor Jeremy Hunt calling for a freeze in business rates in the upcoming autumn statement to prevent the industr being charged millions of pounds in additional tax.

The chief executives from 44 of the UK’s biggest retailers – including Aldi, Boots, Ikea, M&S, Sainsbury’s and Tesco – said that more than £400m would be added to its rates bills if the “multiplier” used to determine commercial property tax was applied.

“An increase to costs at this level could lead to upwards pressure on prices, just as shop price inflation has begun to ease,” they said in a letter seen by The Times.

The tax, which is linked to September’s inflation figure, will be published before the statement on November 22.

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) said that seven in 10 of its members were “very concerned” at the prospect of a rise, warning about the impact on investment, jobs and prices.

Chief executive Helen Dickinson said: “With shop prices inflation having eased for three consecutive months, it is vital that the government does not undermine this progress.

“A £400m rates rise will also cost jobs, harm the economy and damage the vibrancy of our town and city centres.”

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