Countryside Alliance slams ‘punitive’ rate rises for rural businesses following VOA revaluations
Many rural businesses who thought they would be receiving rate relief now face “dramatic” increase in their tax bill, a countryside lobbying group has claimed.
The Countryside Alliance has called for the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) and Government Ministers to reconsider “punitive” changes to business rates, earmarked for April 2017, following a five-yearly revaluation process.
Parliamentarians, rural businesses and local councils have expressed concerns about the increases, and Welsh MP, Glyn Davies, a Tory backbencher, warned there could be a rural “uprising” over the planned revaluation.
The Countryside Alliance said it feared that riding schools, kennels, stud farms and vineyards will be particularly affected by the planned changes. The British Horse Society has also raised concerns.
Following last year’s Budget and Autumn statement, the Countryside Alliance welcomed a Government announcement that small business rate relief would be doubled from £6,000 to £12,000 from April 2017 which it was claimed would raise 600,000 out of paying the tax altogether.
Its head of policy, Sarah Lee, said it was important that the “positive changes” announced by the Government over the past 12 months, particularly the increased threshold for rates which comes into force in April, were not undermined by the latest “flawed” VOA valuations.
“Many rural businesses who thought they would be receiving a rate relief now face dramatic increases in their tax bills,” she said.
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“Unfortunately it would appear that many of these rates decisions have been drawn up behind a desk and are blind to the realities and needs of rural businesses.
“This is in effect a bricks-and-mortar tax based on the size of the premises, not the profitability of an individual businesses and risks hammering rural businesses if the revaluation is not handled with care.
“Far from being disadvantaged by the VOA’s revaluation, rural businesses require further support.”
The Department of Communities and Local Government said no small business will see an increase of more than 5% this year, while £3.6bn is being spent on relief.
A spokesman said: “This revaluation improves the fairness of rate bills by making sure they more closely reflect the property market.”