Small firms need tax help - owner

Mike and Georgia Prentice and Becky Day and Ben Finch-Harris.

Mike and Georgia Prentice and Becky Day and Ben Finch-Harris. - Credit: Archant

A WESTON businessman is calling for more help to be given to small companies trying to set up in and around the town.

Mike and Georgia Prentice and Becky Day and Ben Finch-Harris.

Mike and Georgia Prentice and Becky Day and Ben Finch-Harris. - Credit: Archant

Mike Prentice, of Fancy Dress and Party, said he is having to run his company on a smaller basis and employ fewer staff, because business rates are stopping him growing the firm.

Mr Prentice started running the business from a small outlet in Congresbury two years ago because it meant he did not have to pay business rates.

But now he has moved to his current Sunnyside Road North site, he is currently shelling out up to 20 per cent of the warehouse’s rent again, just in business rates.

He said: “The most frustrating thing is that I have a new small business and I don’t want to be paying a large amount.”

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Mr Prentice believes the amount in business rates he has to pay is preventing him from expanding and employing more staff.

Business rates are calculated by the Valuation Office Agency, based on the rental value of a company’s property, with the money collected by North Somerset Council.

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But Mr Prentice said despite being predominately a web-based company, he needs a warehouse to keep his stock in and cannot expand his company because he cannot afford the larger business rates such a unit would attract.

Although the smallest business are eligible for business rate relief, Mr Prentice said the bar was set too low to help a lot of start-up companies.

As the Mercury went to press, Chancellor George Osborne was delivering his financial budget to MPs and there have been calls for him to do more to help businesses grow.

John Mayer, the chairman of Weston’s Federation of Small Businesses, said: “With the economy only growing a fraction in 2012, the Chancellor must deliver a Budget that is unashamedly focused on boosting small business.

“Even though unemployment has fallen considerably, consumer confidence to spend and boost the economy is far from sufficient.

“What we need to hear about is not more small-scale policies which tinker at the edges but measures that will have a tangible effect both immediately and in the long-term.

“That is why we have asked for a review of enterprise policy, to ensure the right initiatives are in place that really do help small firms start-up and grow.

“Simplifying the tax system and making small business rates relief permanent should be the Chancellor’s priority.”

The call comes just days after Blockbuster closed in Winterstoke Road and Thorntons announced its High Street store will shut in May.

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