Despite the signs of a slow economic recovery, many businesses and retailers continue to face real challenges and business rates are now the number one issue for many local companies. Some firms are now paying more in business rates than they do in rent and there are understandable concerns about the increase in rates which came into effect this April following rises of 2.6% in 2013.
The Government moved to cap this year’s increase in business rates at 2%. However, many businesses have still seen their business rates rise. I believe the Government’s cap falls far short of what businesses have been crying out for at this difficult time and, in addition, also excludes workshops and other small and medium businesses. This is a massive oversight and evidence that there is a lack of real understanding at the Treasury and in the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills.
Rather than simply capping the increase in business rates, I would like to see a cut in business rates in 2015 followed by a freeze in 2016. This would benefit 1.5 million start-ups, workshops and shops and could be fully funded by not going ahead with the Government’s planned corporation tax cut, which would benefit only a small number of businesses overall.
That is why I supported an Opposition motion in the House of Commons, in December last year, that called for the Government to ease the burden of business rates on all sectors, as well as an amendment to this year’s Finance Bill which would have required the Government to report on the effect of the planned corporation tax cut, particularly on the small and medium sized businesses which are the lifeblood of the economy in North East Derbyshire.
Some businesses and business groups are disappointed at the Government’s decision to postpone the next rate revaluation of business rates from 1st April 2015 to 1st April 2017. I know that this could cause real problems for local businesses and that is why I also supported an amendment to the 2013 Growth and Infrastructure Act that would have forced the Government to publish all necessary evidence including the impact on the finances of local authorities before this postponement was made.
It is always a pleasure to visit the businesses we have in North East Derbyshire. There is so much diversity and innovation, and I look forward to visiting even more of them in the weeks and months ahead.