Retail Ireland, a group representing the retail sector, has called for urgent reform of the local authority rates system, in a new policy paper published today.

The paper highlights what it claims are serious deficiencies in how local authority rates are levied and collected from retailers, resulting in over €200 million in uncollected rates each year.

It also calls for a break in the link between rents and rates, which it says has led to many retailers paying disproportionate costs due to the prevalence of upward-only rent reviews.

Retail Ireland wants the Government to prioritise reform of the current system through the introduction of a new Rates Valuation Bill before the end of 2017.

Retail Ireland Director Thomas Burke said: "Local authority rates make up a significant portion of total input costs for Irish retailers.

"The current system is opaque, inconsistent, inefficient and expensive to operate.

"Irish retailers are willing to pay their share in order to help improve local services, however the current system is wasteful and places an undue cost burden on retailers.

"Retailers have seen a significant increase in rates in recent years with very little return in terms of new service provision.

"This is of particular concern as retailers feel the pressure of rising costs across a range of other inputs such as labour, rent and utilities. This is leading to a general erosion of the sectors' competitiveness."