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Pickles announcement prompts Somerset Chamber's call for overhaul of business rates

By jspiteri  |  Posted: February 03, 2014

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Eric Pickles MP announced a package of business rate and local support measures on 29th January including £1,000 off the next tax bill for 300,000 small retail firms.

Following this announcement, Somerset Chamber is calling for a complete overhaul of business rates.

Alongside the British Chambers of Commerce, the Somerset Chamber insists that anything less than a full reform of Britain’s broken business rate system is “just a sticking plaster.”

Rupert Cox, CEO of the Somerset Chamber of Commerce, said, “One of the biggest bugbears that every business faces is the unfair tax of business rates that are based on space and not profitability and that have no bearing on the rental market.

“Even during the depths of recession, the government still increased the business rates tax on commercial property, and while there are some exemptions for small retailers, most businesses are paying more than they did in 2010 even though rent might have stayed the same or even decreased.

“The government must now address this unfair tax and completely overhaul the business rate system, making it fair and equitable so that businesses are not paying a disproportionate amount of the tax burden.”

Dr Adam Marshall, Director of Policy and External Affairs at the British Chambers of Commerce, said, “While the rate reliefs will help many smaller companies, anything less than a fundamental reform of Britain’s broken business rate system is just a sticking plaster.

“Westminster and the media seem to think that business rates are only a problem for retailers. Yet they are a huge, and rising, fixed cost for all businesses – and hurt firms on industrial estates and in offices just as much or more than the high street.

“The Prime Minister has recently committed to looking again at the business rates system. He and the Chancellor must set a clear timetable for this – and ensure that their own ministers, and Whitehall civil servants, do not yet again hide behind the excuse that fundamental reform of business rates is ‘too difficult’ to achieve.”

As one of only five accredited Chambers in the South West and 53 in the whole of the UK, the Somerset Chamber works closely with the British Chambers of Commerce to make sure Somerset businesses stay well connected at both a local and national level.

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