Supermarket chief in protest at rates rise

Morrisons' chief executive Dalton Philips has written to Prime Minister David Cameron to protest about increases in the group's business rates, due to come in next year.

Increases of 20 to 25 per cent are due to come in next April.

Mr Philips has been joined by Tesco's corporate and legal

affairs director Lucy Neville-Rolfe, who said the Government needed to look at the financial burden the rate increases will put on retailers.

Mark Price, the managing director of Waitrose, described the rise as unhelpful.

Mr Philips said the increase could cost Bradford-based Morrisons 40m and called the rise "absurd" at a time when retailers are creating much needed private sector jobs.

Business rates, or property taxes levied by local councils on commercial properties, are set toincrease as much as 25 per cent based on September's retail price index inflation figure of 4.6 per cent.

Mr Philips said he was supportive of the Government's efforts to improve the economy, but he said the Treasury has the ability to persuade local councils to change their minds about business rates.

The scheme will work on a sliding scale.

The lowest rates will be 2.5pper pound, rising to 15p if

premises are worth more than 2.1m.

The biggest losers under the plans will be the four big supermarket chains, Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury's and Morrisons.