'˜Stop stalling and reveal rates plans'

Lancashire business leaders today urged Chancellor George Osborne to finally reveal his plans to shake up the business rates system.

Tuesday, 15th March 2016, 12:16 pm
Updated Tuesday, 15th March 2016, 1:36 pm
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The Government promised a year ago to report back by tomorrow’s Budget on its plans to review business rates.

Entrepreneurs across the country have said for many years that the current business rates system is crippling them and stifling growth.

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Now they have urged the Chancellor to stop talking about the review – and act.

Babs Murphy, chief executive of the North and Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce, said: “What needs to happen is for the Government to finally announce its proposals on the wider business rates scheme – that’s been promised for too long now and needs to happen as soon as possible.

“The Chancellor also announced plans to devolve business rates to local councils by the end of this Parliament as part of his Autumn Statement; it will be interesting to see whether that remains the case.”

Noam Handler, North West Tax Partner at EY, said: “At the time of the Autumn Statement we were expecting the Government to announce where it had got to after the consultation on business rates closed. Instead we got an update on the tax administration side of business rates. This time, as part of the business tax road map, we’d expect more substantial announcements.”

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 last year.

Ms Murphy added: “We said publicly only last month that the government must take measures to simplify business tax. First of all, it would eliminate the loopholes which give rise to tax avoidance schemes and ensure the rules are the same for everyone, irrespective of companies’ sizes.

“Businesses have had imposed on them the new National Living Wage, the apprenticeship levy and auto enrolment. The last thing we would want is to see further charges and regulation imposed on business.”