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Chambers call for Budget action to ease business rates burden
LOCAL Chambers of Commerce are backing national calls ahead of the Spring Budget in March for the government to deliver real reform to the business rates system.
Milton Keynes, Bedfordshire and Northamptonshire Chambers are urging Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond to use his last Spring Budget to support long-term business investment by taking action to deliver real reform to the business rates system.
As it stands, the system creates a number of perverse incentives for business location, property improvement, and plant and machinery investment.
The British Chambers of Commerce is lobbying for four key measures on business rates from the Spring Budget:
- Abandon the fiscal neutrality principle in business rates reform, an unacceptable barrier to fundamental reform of the business rates system that is unique to that tax;
- Bring forward the switch from RPI to CPI, currently planned for April 2020, to April 2017;
- Removal of all plant and machinery from the valuation of property for business rates purposes;
- Drop proposals to restrict the ability of the Valuation Tribunal for England to order changes to business rates liabilities.
BCC director general Adam Marshall (pictured) said: “The current rates system is broken and, despite attempts by successive governments to introduce marginal reforms, the fundamental unfairness of business rates remains.
“Some businesses as a result of this could face up a 200% increase in their rateable values while others could see a decline of around 40%. Furthermore, the UK has one of highest non-residential property rates in Europe.
“At a time of uncertainty surrounding the UKs future relationship with Europe, the government can take decisive action on business rates and at the same time make the UK an attractive place to do business while maintaining its competiveness with its counterparts in Europe.
“We are calling for steps to be introduced which would help alleviate some of the excessive pressure put on businesses by rates.
“The policy of fiscal neutrality means there are winners and losers across the country from reforms but limits the government’s scope to bring about fundamental change to the system. Excluding plant and machinery from valuations would remove a perverse incentive for investment, and businesses should be allowed to appeal valuations through a simpler and fairer process.
“Businesses from across the Chamber network of all sizes, sectors and locations, lament the burden of this high up-front cost, which they are forced to pay before making even a penny of profit.”
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