Views on business rates ahead of the spring statement

Toby Anderson, McKesson UK CEO:

British business is undergoing a turbulent time. We still don’t know what will happen with Brexit and the planning for a potential ‘no deal’ requires significant management time and in many cases investment in stock, warehousing and changes to systems and processes.  The regulatory burden is substantial and if your business model happens to include retail outlets – you’re also facing attack on another front; unprecedented change, declining footfall and a need to develop digital solutions.

Community pharmacy is not immune to these external market factors. Like all business supporting local communities we face numerous challenges, but we also have additional issues to deal with such as FMD— not to mention the vagaries of Category M and a contract that is in urgent need of reform.

We provide a unique and vital service to the community as a major contractor to the NHS and thousands of people rely on ready access to our healthcare professionals every day without appointment. The continued high level of business rates makes the marginally economical service of dispensing prescriptions even more challenging.

Government funding cuts to community pharmacy prompted us to tackle market changes head-on with around 70 LloydsPharmacy closures. Our competitors have now acknowledged that keeping their bricks and mortar sites open is becoming more and more challenging. We are being forced to remove vital services from communities at a time when our NHS is under more and more pressure from people living longer with long term conditions.

We urgently need reform to this outdated taxation to provide accessible healthcare as well as preserve our urban landscapes. Let’s not forget that when retailers go out of business, they pay no tax at all.  How does that benefit the economy?