Member of Parliament for The Cotswolds – Geoffrey Clifton-Brown – today called on the Chancellor of the Exchequer – Rt Hon. Philip Hammond MP – to adopt changes to the business rates system, which was highlighted by the following exchange in the House of Commons:
‘In Stow-on-the-Wold in my constituency, the actual business rates payable by Tesco, which is five minutes’ walk from the centre, is £220 per square metre, whereas a delicatessen in the centre of the town will pay £500 per square metre. Does not my right hon. Friend think that the system of rating valuation needs to be re-examined?’
‘The rating system is what it is; it reflects the rental value of properties. I readily acknowledge that in an economy that is changing shape rapidly, where the digital economy plays a much larger role and where some of the biggest businesses are not based on bricks and mortar, there are some very significant challenges for us, which we need to look at. In the short and medium term, business rates play a vital role in providing revenue to the Exchequer—and from 2020, of course, they will be used wholly to support local authorities.’
Small businesses in the Cotswolds, which provide the lifeblood and identity for towns and villages across the constituency, will struggle to remain solvent if punitive business rates continue to be applied. This is especially unfair when coupled with large national businesses – such as supermarkets – benefitting from reduced rates as a result of their questionable ‘out-of-town’ status.
Commenting on the revaluation Mr Clifton-Brown said:
‘Small business owners are constantly trying to maintain profitability while remaining price competitive. With the revaluation of business rates, independent shops, hotels and restaurants in the Cotswolds are now having to face yet another unwelcome increase to their outgoing costs, with the potential of closure in the future.’
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