Business rates cuts welcomed as Suffolk high street businesses feel the pain

Brian Smith has returned home after he went missing and was last seen in Ipswich town centre Picture

Brian Smith has returned home after he went missing and was last seen in Ipswich town centre Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

The chancellor’s plans to cut business rates has been welcomed by business leaders as an “alarming” number of high street firms close across Suffolk.

John Dugmore, chief executive of Suffolk Chamber of Commerce also called on Philip Hammond to ensure all businesses have a 12 month delay on increased business rate bills when improving an existing property or moving to a new premises, while in the longer term calling for “fundamental reform” of a “broken” business rates system.

“We’re delighted that the Chancellor has heeded our calls and that of the British Chambers of Commerce to abandon the uprating of business rates for the high street for the next two years, and gone further by cutting bills for the vast majority of high street firms,” he said as the chancellor prepared to deliver his budget.

“An alarming number of high street firms, both large and small, are closing or being earmarked for closure across Suffolk. This deterioration has cost thousands of jobs since the start of 2018.

“While there are long-term structural changes taking place, including changes to consumer habits, the tipping point for many of these firms has been the unnecessarily large burden that business rates place on them.”

A short-term cut in rates will be “very welcome news” to those on the high street who require urgent respite, he said.

“Business rates are a heavy burden that throttle all firms with steep bills regardless of how well they’re doing or the economy is faring.”

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While welcoming flexibility on mixed use properties, he warned that high streets were already being “hollowed out” by the encroachment of residential spaces.