Ahead of his first Budget speech on 8 March, Chancellor Philip Hammond has told Conservative MPs that he is ‘listening’ to concerns about an imminent re-evaluation of business rates.
At a recent meeting of the Conservative backbench 1922 Committee in Westminster, a number of MPs raised concerns about businesses in their constituencies facing significantly increased costs when the new rates come into effect in England on 1 April. Revaluation processes are also underway in Scotland and Wales, with Northern Ireland having carried out a revaluation in 2015.
Conservative Andrew Bridgen, the MP for the North West Leicestershire constituency, has said that some businesses in his area are facing ‘eye-watering’ rises, with one firm’s monthly rates increasing from £50 to £700. Along with others, he has called for Mr Hammond to take action on business rates in the Budget to avoid high street business closures and potential damage to the economy.
However, a spokesperson for the Department for Communities and Local Government insisted the rate changes were ‘fairer’ and ‘will mean businesses in 80% of council areas will see an average fall in their business rates bills due to revaluation before inflation’.
Meanwhile, the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) and Camden Town Unlimited Business Improvement District have called for the Chancellor to make a special London business rate concession.
Their survey of businesses in London found that the average micro business (businesses with less than ten employees) will be paying £17,000 in business rates in April 2017, and that 74% of respondents said that business rates was the single biggest issue affecting their business.
The FSB and Camden Town Unlimited Business Improvement District are calling for the government to create an increased inner and outer London Small Business Rate Relief (SBRR) threshold.