Hampshire Chamber’s business rates plea to Chancellor

Hampshire Chamber’s business rates plea to Chancellor

25 February 2016

Hampshire businesses are urging George Osborne to completely overhaul the ‘iniquitous’ business rates system in his Budget next month.

The Chancellor outlined plans to devolve significant control of business rates to local authorities – allowing them to retain the revenue – in his Autumn Statement last November.

Now Hampshire Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive Stewart Dunn wants him to go further on March 16 and reform the whole system.

Mr Dunn, whose organisation represents 2,000 firms across the county, said: “This broken, outdated and iniquitous system is fundamentally flawed and actually works against the businesses that are the heartbeat of Hampshire.”

The Chamber is calling for a root and branch review and says the Government is set to collect a record £23.5 billion in business rates next year and has yet to deliver meaningful reform despite repeated calls from businesses.

Mr Dunn said: “Giving local authorities more control over collection and spending does not make an unfair system fair. The current poorly-designed system acts as a serious brake on investment and growth and places a crippling financial burden on many companies.

“It is levied irrespective of profitability and so doesn’t take into account the ability to pay. In most cases business rates are based on valuations set at the height of the property boom.”

Mr Dunn said reforms should include annual revaluations rather than every five years to avoid crippling increases and the permanent abolition of the ‘annual uplift multiplier’ which doesn’t take into account performance of businesses.

Also, he said that plant, machinery and microgeneration should be removed from the ratings system as their inclusion discouraged businesses from investing in their premises. “Firms are hit by rates before turning a single pound,” he added.

And he called for Mr Osborne to publish a business taxation review including plans for a new regime with a reducing share of business rates revenue as a proportion of overall business taxation.

Mr Dunn added: “Business rate reform could play a vital role in skills investment by giving more businesses the financial leverage to take on apprentices, graduates and other young people.

“Direct investment in skills would be an important way to keep the UK competitive given that the ‘baby boomer’ generations are set to retire from the workplace in large numbers over the next few years.”



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