Council Urges Action On Business Rate Hikes
Calling for the Government to extend transitional relief for local firms hit by large increases.
The current protection, which was introduced four years ago following revaluation, runs out at the end of this month. Some local businesses are now facing a four-fold hike in business rates in the coming year.
Deputy council leader Maurice Heaster says the increase could be the last straw for many recession-hit businesses:
“This is the worst possible time for the new valuations to bite. The Chancellor has to step in – if he allows businesses to fold he will lose the income any way.
“Some of the worst effects are in areas which have been regenerated over the years. This is a perverse reward for the investment businesses and councils have made in these places. It’s the small independent traders in our shopping streets who will be hit hardest. If the Government does not act we will have more boarded-up shops or streets taken over by the large multiples.
“Ministers should announce an emergency package of relief now. These are desperate times which call for urgent measures to help the small businesses that are the lifeblood of local communities. The four-year relief which expires this month should be extended for a further twelve months and the planned revaluation due in 2010 should be postponed.
“I have written to the business minister today inviting her to come and see for herself just how some of our local businesses are being hit by this huge stealth tax.”
Business rates are collected by local councils who then hand the money over to central government. Following the last revaluation of commercial premises in 2005 a four year period was allowed for the increases to be phased in.
Because the annual ceilings on increases have previously been set at between five and 15 per cent for small businesses all the outstanding increase has to be made up in the final year. 2009 is the first year since 1990 when there will be no limit on how much a business rates bill can go up. A further revaluation is scheduled for 2010.
March 25, 2009