Business rates review launched: Lancashire views sought

Marcus Jones
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The Government has announced a revaluation of business rates which it says will ensure fairer bills for businesses.

Local Government Minister Marcus Jones has published a consultation on the revaluation of business rates which will ensure bills accurately reflect changes in the property market.

Business leaders in Lancashire and all across the country have said for many years that the current business rates system is crippling them and stifling growth.

An online petition set up by the Lancashire Evening Post’s parent company Johnston Press calling for an overhaul of the business rates system was signed by more than 5,000 people in 2014.

Meanwhile, draft rateable values were being published today by the Valuation Office Agency,

John Webber from commercial real estate company Colliers International said the revaluations will be “the largest changes to business rates in a generation”.

New figures published as part of the Government consultation show that the majority of businesses across the country will be unaffected or better off by the changes, with many looking forward to their bills falling as the system is made fairer across the whole of England.

The Government says that revaluation will reduce bills in the North West by 10 per cent before inflation and transitional relief. This will reduce bills by over £310m per year.

This is on top of measures which mean that from next April, businesses will benefit from the biggest ever cut in business rates in England – worth £6.7 billion over the next five years. As a result, 600,000 businesses across the country will pay no business rates at all.

For any businesses who face an increase in the bills, any rise will be capped at five per cent in the first year for small properties, with a dedicated system of transitional relief worth £3.4 billion to help business owners adjust to the new bills.

Adjustments to the business rate multiplier will mean that overall, receipts from business rates will remain constant in real terms following the revaluation.

Local Government Minister Marcus Jones said: “This Government is cutting business rates. Yet local firms also need to be confident that the rates they pay are accurate and fair, no matter where they are in country, and these updates will give them that reassurance.

“We are committed to helping all businesses flourish and as we make the system fairer up and down the country, nearly three quarters of companies will see no change, or even a fall, in their bills – including 600,000 who from next April will have their bills cut altogether.”

By 2020, councils will be able to keep 100 per cent of all locally-raised taxes to help fund local services, which will mean a stronger incentive for councils to support and help local firms grow and prosper.

The deadline for the consultation is October 26.

Details can be found at www.gov.uk

Babs Murphy, Chief Executive of the North & Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce said the announcement had to be “good news for business.”

She said: “While the UK is likely to avoid a recession, businesses are still digesting the result of the EU referendum and the challenges and opportunities it brings. It is crucial that the government focuses on actions that support business investment and confidence.

“Decisions on business-boosting infrastructure projects, revisions to our outdated business rates system, and a pledge not to introduce input taxes and other costs on business should be at the forefront of the Chancellor’s mind.

“It is good to see that the government is looking at a wide-ranging fairer business rates system, as this unfair tax hammers businesses across the country, before they’ve even made single pound in profit. This announcement has to be good news for business”.