Proof that sky-high business rates are deterring businesspeople from opening up independent shops comes from a young entrepreneur in Bath. Wanting to open a shop in the centre of Bath in busy Stall Street, she was shocked to find that the rent was £15,000 a year but the business rates a whopping £86,866! Having allocated £100,000 to opening and fitting out the shop, she now finds she just cannot do it and will have to shelve her plans of opening a shop—and employing people in Bath.
The government cannot go on talking about encouraging the private sector to bring back growth to Britain and then burden the same private sector with ridiculously high business rates—and what would this young businesswoman get for her £86,000? Absolutely nothing!
So come on Bath and North East Somerset Council, work with the local Federation of Small Businesses and Small Business Focus and help local people who want to open independent shops by putting pressure on central government to cut business rates. Or at the very least, let’s have a two-tier system where independents pay less than massive chain stores. That way, Bath can retain its position as an attractive and innovative place to visit and shop.
Although the recent budget was received positively by businesspeople in Bath, some were very disappointed the measures did not include a freeze in business rates. ‘Business rates are due to go up 2.6 per cent fairly soon and we know businesses, particularly retailers would be looking for some help or looking for that to be postponed,’ said local financial adviser Dominic Bourquin. ‘With many big names going under this is somewhat of a surprise—that would have made a huge difference to lots of people.’
Tim Newark, South West TaxPayers’ Alliance