Southwold and Stowmarket business groups call for change to business rate system in face of rises
- Credit: Nick Butcher
Businesses in Southwold have been leading the fight against the increase in business rates which has left many small high street outlets facing an uncertain future.
Chamber of Trade member Rebecca Bishop, owner of the Two Magpies Bakery, said she was heartened by the news that Chancellor Philip Hammond had met Conservative MPs and assured them that he is listening to their concerns about the business rates revaluation.
She said: “I do feel they are starting to realise there is a fundamental flaw in the system and it is going to have a real impact on our high streets if they don’t do something about it.
“We want the chancellor to announce that he is making a statutory regulation now to give help to businesses and accepts there is a fundamental flaw and will look at legislation and a complete change to this outdated system.”
Every business in Southwold is facing a business rates increase – the largest is 245% and the average is 177%.
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Allan Scott , chairman of Stowmarket and District Chamber of Commerce, said: “The problem is that the weight of the rate rises seems to be falling on the small businesses; the ones that are least able to afford it.
“I think to be honest given what I am seeing it could take the town backwards. I would strongly advise anyone who will be disadvantaged by it to write to their MP.”
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In Aldeburgh, rises are expected to be around 70% because of the big increase in property prices, while in Woodbridge, the rise is expected to be less (around 5%) and Choose Woodbridge is currently collating details.
Businesses of Saxmundham chairman Peter Ewart said the group was unaware of any concerns of high rate rises in the market town but property prices had not risen as steeply as in other places.
Stephen Britt from Suffolk Chamber of Commerce, based in Ipswich, said he thought the system for working out business rates needed a massive overhaul because it could not be applied fairly across the county
“It is imperative the Government listens and acts quickly to implement a fairer, simpler and less burdensome system that at its worst penalises good businesses and blights whole business clusters, including high streets.”