Business owners want rate reduction to battle downturn

WESTON business owners battling against the financial downturn have appealed to pay less money in business rates, saying they do not offer value for money.

Every business pays rates which are set out by the Valuation Office and collected by the local authority, with the proceeds then going towards services in the area.

But although businesses with a rateable value of �6,000 or less do not currently have to pay anything due to a Government rate ‘holiday’, independent traders above that threshold say they are paying too much and seeing too little in the way of benefits.

Rate reduction experts Higgins and Thomas are currently negotiating with the Valuation Office, a branch of Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, on behalf of several Weston businesses, among them Regent Street-based Roundabout Cards.

Co-owner Liz Chapman says she and her daughter and business partner Heidi are waiting to see if they have been successful with an appeal to lower their rates.

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She said: “In this financial year we are having to pay �9,634 for business rates, which is the equivalent of around 1,500 cards a month.

“This is despite the fact that we are quite clearly a small business, the size of our business space means that we have been valued higher.

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“We are waiting in a queue to see if we have been lucky, but it doesn’t seem fair that an independent business like ourselves should be paying so much – we already pay for the rubbish collections and on top of that we have to pay our rent.”

The owner of another business in the town’s High Street agreed, saying: “The amount that we have had to pay has gone up, but when you look out the window at the street, it just looks derelict and desperate out there, and the only things opening are charity shops.

“We have to pay a large amount for these rates, and for what? I do not see the benefit here – it has become a complete and utter mess.”

Mark Kramer, of Higgins and Thomas, said: “Clearly we are in a recessional period at the moment, and there are a lot of businesses who have a right to see if they have been valuated properly.

“There are lots of different criteria that mean an appeal can be successful – from roadworks or other factors affecting their business, to businesses being incorrectly valuated.”

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