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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Shopping trolleys at a Sainsbury’s store in London

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LONDON (Reuters) – British supermarket groups Sainsbury’s, Asda and Morrisons said on Wednesday they will forgo business rates relief granted to them in finance minister Rishi Sunak’s budget statement.

Sunak extended a year-long business rates exemption for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses to the end of June to help them get through the COVID-19 pandemic.

He also said that for the remaining nine months of the 2021-22 financial year business rates would be discounted by two-thirds.

The major supermarket groups initially benefited from Sunak’s freeze on rates, which are charged on commercial property, for 2020-21 but paid it back after performing relatively strongly during the crisis.

Sainsbury’s said it wanted a broader conversation and consultation with government on over-arching business rates reform and a review of business taxation.

“We believe fundamentally that business rates are an outdated and unfair burden on retailers with physical stores and need to be permanently reduced,” it said.

Britain’s finance ministry said last month it would delay publication of its review of business rates until the autumn when the economic outlook should be clearer.

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