Suffolk Chamber calls on Chancellor Philip Hammond to include business rates reform in Budget measures

John Dugmore, chief executive of Suffolk Chamber of Commerce.

John Dugmore, chief executive of Suffolk Chamber of Commerce. - Credit: Archant

Reform of the business rates system is one of three key policy demands set out by Suffolk Chamber of Commerce in its submission to the Government ahead of this week’s Budget.

Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond.

Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond. - Credit: PA

The chamber has called on Chancellor Philip Hammond to ease the burden on businesses by removing all plant and machinery from the valuation of property for business rates purposes.

Its demand comes amid controversy over a revaluation of business premises which has left many businesses facing hefty increases in their rates bills.

Suffolk Chamber also wants the Government to drop proposals to restrict the ability of the Valuation Tribunal in England to order changes in the event of successful appeals against the new valuations, and to link future increases to the CPI rate of inflation rather than the RPI, which is usually higher.

Away from rates, the chamber is calling on the Chancellor to reduce other business costs, in areas including the Apprenticeship Levy, Insurance Premium Tax and the Dividend Tax, and to fund in full provisions outlined in the Government’s recent Industrial Strategy Green Paper for improving infrastructure and skills and tackling barriers to scaling-up businesses.

John Dugmore at the Suffolk Chamber offices in Ipswich.

John Dugmore at the Suffolk Chamber offices in Ipswich. - Credit: Lucy Taylor

British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), to which Suffolk Chamber is affiliated as an accredited chamber, has also called for reform of the rating system.

A Suffolk Chamber spokesman said: “The BCC is doing the right thing at the right time. The current rates system is broken, and despite attempts by successive governments to introduce marginal reforms, the fundamental unfairness of business rates remains.”

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He added: “It is imperative that 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. The coming Budget would be the perfect opportunity to initiate a fundamental reform of the system.”