MPs urged to save the high street as empty shop rate hits new high
Retail: Retailers across the UK are asking local MPs to make helping high streets a priority.
The British Retail Consortium (BRC) is asking MPs to listen to local businesses and help halt high street decline.
The call comes in the wake of figures showing the empty shops rate in town centres has reached a new high of 11.3 per cent.
A poll of MPs shows two thirds believe high streets in their constituencies have deteriorated noticeably over the past five years.
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The BRC says taking action against the rising cost of doing business in the UK is the number one thing MPs should do to help high streets.
It is asking them to join calls for the Government to freeze business rates – set to rise by 2.6 per cent this year.
Rates have already risen by more than 10 per cent in the past two years, adding more than half a billion pounds to retailers' bills during tough trading conditions.
The BRC warns that allowing another rise would do further damage to high streets and deter investment and job creation. BRC director general Helen Dickinson said: "MPs understand high streets are focal points for communities and essential to local economies.
"But many high streets are facing a real endurance test in these challenging times and rising operating costs are making matters worse.
"The Autumn Statement didn't include a pledge to freeze business rates next year but there's still time for the Government to do the right thing.
"Two thirds of MPs have already told us they support a rates freeze next year.
"I urge them to keep pushing for change if they want to breathe life back into our town centres and preserve and protect local businesses."