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East Anglia Future 50

Suffolk restaurateur warns of 'cataclysmic' effect of soaring business rates

PUBLISHED: 15:36 12 March 2018 | UPDATED: 08:32 14 March 2018

Richard Sunderland outside The Crown in Stoke By Nayland. Picture: PHIL MORLEY

Richard Sunderland outside The Crown in Stoke By Nayland. Picture: PHIL MORLEY

A Suffolk restaurant owner is warned that the hospitality sector is facing "cataclysmic" conditions as chancellor Philip Hammond prepares to deliver his spring statement.

Richard Sunderland at The Crown in Stoke by Nayland. Picture: SU ANDERSONRichard Sunderland at The Crown in Stoke by Nayland. Picture: SU ANDERSON

Richard Sunderland, co-owner of The Crown at Stoke-by-Nayland, said the government should scrap business rates and create a fairer taxation system to benefit small businesses.

His own business, which employs around 60 people, enjoys a roaring trade, but faced a number of challenges, he said.

He supports measures to increase the minimum wage and improve pensions, but it was an added cost, he said.

But in addition, traditional businesses such as his were saddled with very high business rates, while huge internet-based companies such as Amazon had proportionately very light tax burdens, he argued.

“I don’t think there has been a more difficult time to run your business in the UK,” he said.

“If anyone was setting up their own business in the UK now, I would say have a very, very good look at what you are proposing.”

He warned that some wouldn’t survive under the present conditions and called for a rethink, and a more modern approach to taxation.

“Business rates have absolutely crippled businesses. It’s really coming to crunch point,” he said.

While his sales were good, other costs were hitting him, he admitted, describing it as “a perfect storm” of adverse conditions. Other businesses, especially those on the high street which were also being hit by high rents, were on the edge, he believed.

“It’s going to be absolutely cataclysmic,” he said.

“The business rate angle is the biggest single thing that’s hitting the retail industry.

“What I would do is have a close look at what business rates is actually achieving - it’s an archaic taxation.”

The government had not caught up with businesses such as Amazon and Uber, he argued. “We have got to fundamentally restructure our taxation,” he said.

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