Salon owner: ‘Extortionate’ bill rise could put me out of business

Abi Cutter is very worried about what will happen to her salon after her valuable rates charge incre

Abi Cutter is very worried about what will happen to her salon after her valuable rates charge increased by £4000. Picture: GEMMA JARVIS - Credit: Archant

A beauty salon owner has vented her frustration at a £4,000 rate increase just four months after she made £85,000 of renovations - saying the rise could put her out of business.

Abi Cutter is “disgusted” with the increase and feel they are being penalised for doing a good job.

Abi Cutter is disgusted with the increase and feel they are being penalised for doing a good job. Picture: GEMMA JARVIS - Credit: Archant

Lipstick & Locks opened in North Street, Sudbury in September last year, unusually combining a hair and make-up studio with a cocktail bar.

However major alterations needed to be made to the Grade II Listed premises, with co-owners Abigail Cutter and Liam Liskus saying the rate rise made it feel like they were being penalised for doing a good job.

The Valuation Office Agency (VOA), which sets business rates, said it took a wide range of factors into account when deciding how much business should pay.

Meanwhile Babergh District Council said it is looking to support stores like Lipstick & Locks by adopting the government's retail discounts to cut their bills.

Abi Cutter, co-owner of Lipstick & Locks in Sudbury has been hit with a �4,000 rate increase without

Abi Cutter, co-owner of Lipstick & Locks in Sudbury has been hit with a �4,000 rate increase without warning. Picture: GEMMA JARVIS - Credit: Archant


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Ms Cutter said she was "disgusted" with the rise, which she said came without warning.

She added: "It's an extortionate increase without any warning. Simply because we've made the building look so much better. I think it's ridiculous.

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"The last thing I want to do is put our prices up to help towards the rates. That's not a route I want to take at all because then we'd lose customers. It's a vicious circle."

Asked if this could put her out of business, Ms Cutter replied: "Well it could do, yes. It's very, very difficult. And I'm very worried."

Abi Cutter co-owns Lipstick & Locks is a beauty salon and cocktail bar on the High Street in Sudbury

Abi Cutter co-owns Lipstick & Locks is a beauty salon and cocktail bar on the High Street in Sudbury. Picture: GEMMA JARVIS - Credit: Archant

James Cartlidge, MP for South Suffolk, said: "I have publicly stated my concerns about the rather perverse way business rates operate in seeming to punish, rather than reward, investment.

"I raised the impact of business rates on the high street at the first opportunity in the Commons after the election and will continue to call for change."

A VOA spokesman said: "We cannot comment on individual cases.

"The VOA uses a wide range of property information, including rental and other evidence such as location and physical attributes, to compare values across similar types of properties in order to set the rateable value.

Ms Cutter said the increase could "put her out business" and thinks it is "ridiculous". Picture: GEM

Ms Cutter said the increase could "put her out business" and thinks it is "ridiculous". Picture: GEMMA JARVIS - Credit: Archant

"If a ratepayer thinks the details we hold about their property are incorrect, they can see how their valuation has been calculated and update their facts, if needed, by registering with our check and challenge service."

However, in a positive move, the government recently pledged to increase retail discounts.

It means that by April, Lipstick & Locks should receive a 50% discount.

A spokesman for Babergh District Council said: "We're committed to helping our towns and communities to thrive, and economic growth for local business is key.

Owners Abi Cutter and Liam Liskus have spent £85,000 overhauling the premises on Sudbury High Street

Owners Abi Cutter and Liam Liskus have spent £85,000 overhauling the premises on Sudbury High Street. Picture: GEMMA JARVIS - Credit: Archant

"Business rates are set by the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) - part of HM Revenue and Customs - not Babergh District Council, but we can help our local businesses by offering a range of services, advice and support.

"Thanks to a cabinet decision this week, we can support our high streets by adopting the government's retail rate discounts as quickly as possible in order to help local businesses such as Lipstick and Locks.

"If any business experiences financial difficulties in the meantime, we urge them to contact us immediately so that we can put suitable payment arrangements in place to support them."

Referring to the retail discount increase rising from 33% to 50% in April, Mr Lipkus said: "The councils encourage a community effort and say we all must partake in the high street, yet step back from their duty to help the community when it comes to rates.

Owners Abi Cutter and Liam Liskus have spent £85,000 overhauling the premises on Sudbury High Street

Owners Abi Cutter and Liam Liskus have spent £85,000 overhauling the premises on Sudbury High Street. Picture: GEMMA JARVIS - Credit: Archant

"We are holding off our appeal towards the increase, because of this press release and while the alteration of the 17% is more than welcomed, we do have to take it with a pinch of salt. Some rate reliefs are capped at a maximum rateable value so most business don't qualify for it.

"Until full disclosure of the plan is released, we can't get too excited."

Lipstick & Locks has become a popular salon on the High Street in Sudbury. Picture: KIMBERLEY COCKEL

Lipstick & Locks has become a popular salon on the High Street in Sudbury. Picture: KIMBERLEY COCKEL - Credit: Archant

South Suffolk MP James Cartlidge said he had stated his concerns over business rates to the House of

South Suffolk MP James Cartlidge said he had stated his concerns over business rates to the House of Commons. Picture: OFFICE OF JAMES CARTLIDGE - Credit: Archant

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