Businesses face 5% rate rise

BUSINESSES in North Somerset will be made to pay an extra five per cent in rates from this week.

BUSINESSES in North Somerset will be made to pay an extra five per cent in rates from this week.

Weston MP John Penrose has criticised the Government for the increase saying to will have a massive impact on businesses which are already struggling to survive.

The increase in business rates starts this April despite inflation being 0 per cent.

The increase will mean business rates are at their highest since they were introduced in the early 1990s.

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The five per cent increase is based on inflation figures from last September, but since then it has fallen significantly and is now predicated to be negative in 2009-10.

The Government is also increasing the cost of business rates on empty properties and passing new laws which will force many town halls to levy a supplementary business rate as well.

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Mr Penrose said: "The Government keeps saying they're doing all they can to help small businesses. But just like the bank loans which they promised back in January to help businesses weather the economic storm, and which still aren't available three months later, there's a gap between spin and reality.

"Local businesses need to know that the Government is on their side. It's absurd to impose huge increases in taxes on local shops and businesses during a recession. Skyrocketing business rates will only put extra pressure on hard pressed local shops and businesses. Weston and the villages have already seen too many closures and we can't afford anymore.

"At the moment, many local shops and businesses are eligible for Small Business Rate Relief but only half are claiming it as they either haven't been told that it's available or that they can claim it. That's not good enough, which is why I've been urging the Government to make the relief automatic so that businesses don't lose out."

According to the latest figures there are 5,414 business premises in North Somerset. The average business rates bill in 08-09 was �8,863. This will increase to an estimated �9,306 after the rise.

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