Business rates ‘hampering growth’

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Most south west businesses (81%) have seen their business rates increase over the past five years, becoming one of their biggest costs.

Matthew Lee
Matthew Lee

While more than half (50.5%) have seen Business Rates rise to almost match their property rent, almost a fifth (18.1%) report that they’re now paying as much or more in business rates as they pay in rent.

These are among the top-line findings of a survey of the region’s business owners by south west accountancy firm, Bishop Fleming.

“These findings are outrageous, and underline our campaign calling for a ‘root and branch’ reform of what we consider to be an ‘iniquitous tax’,” said Matthew Lee, managing partner at Bishop Fleming.

“Business rates were supposed to be less than half of rents, but that ratio is becoming overturned by the reduction of rents and the continued increase in business rates.”

According to the findings, most businesses (89%) report that increased business rates have hampered their ability to invest in growth.

And two thirds (63.3%) of respondents reported that their property values have declined since 2008, while their business rates have increased.

Almost three-quarters of the survey respondents brand Business Rates as unfair (73%), while a further 21.6% question the fact that UK businesses pay more in business rates than their EU competitors.