02 November 2012 10:09
David Cameron's retail tsar, Mary Portas, has branded a Government delay in business rates revaluation a "tragedy for the high street".
The television presenter said she was "hugely disappointed" that the review had been put back by two years to 2017, according to the Financial Times.
Ms Portas was brought in by the Prime Minister to help breathe life into struggling high streets and spearheaded "Portas pilot" regeneration projects for towns.
Business leaders are also angered by the Government delay, claiming it means retailers will continue to be taxed on rents from 2008 before the market crashed.
But Communities Secretary Eric Pickles postponed the move to stop small firms facing big hikes in their bills, officials said.
A Department for Communities and Local Government spokesman said: "A revaluation would in a likelihood result in sharp changes to business rate bills in many parts of the country and in many sectors. This would not be in the wider public interest, particularly when the Government wants to ensure the economy is growing.
"The decision to postpone would avoid local firms and local shops facing unexpected hikes in their business rates bills over the next five years. Early estimates suggest that 800,000 premises would see a real-terms rise in their rates bill.
"The best thing the Government can do to help such businesses is to provide them with a stable economic environment. This is why we want to protect local firms from soaring tax bills."
Local Government Minister Brandon Lewis said: "The postponement of the revaluation will stop soaring tax bills for 800,000 firms, with both small firms and retail being amongst the biggest beneficiaries.
"We want to ensure tax stability so local shops and local firms can take on jobs and invest."