UK's Sunak to delay business rates review until autumn, FT reports

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FILE PHOTO: Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak is seen at Downing Street in London

(Reuters) - British Finance Minister Rishi Sunak will announce on Friday that he is delaying until later this year a final report on a review of business rates, a key part of his promise to "level the playing field" between the high street and online retailers, the Financial Times reported on Thursday.

Business rates are taxes to help pay for local services, charged on most commercial properties, including shops, warehouses, pubs, cafes and restaurants. They are currently calculated according to the rentable value of properties and have an annual inflationary uplift, or multiplier.

Sunak will argue that postponing the report, which will consider the case for an online sales tax, to the autumn will allow him to make decisions when the economic uncertainty caused by the coronavirus pandemic has receded, the report added.

Meanwhile, Sunak is also expected to announce an extension of the year-long business rates holiday for retail, hospitality and leisure in the budget next month, the newspaper said.

Last week, Sunak said his priority remained to protect as many jobs as possible from the impact of the pandemic.

Sunak will also move forward with plans to launch Britain's first "green" government bonds - designed to finance environmentally-friendly investments - and might also nudge the Bank of England to focus more on climate change.

Sunak's office was not immediately available for a request for comment.

(Reporting by Nandakumar D and Sabahatjahan Contractor in Bengaluru ; Editing by Chris Reese and Paul Simao)