Hackney business chief slams government over latest business rates rise

Guy Nicholson (Labour)

Guy Nicholson (Labour) - Credit: Archant

Town hall chiefs have slammed government plans to slap another rates hike on businesses just months after an increase left Hackney traders forced to pay crippling fees.

The government’s rate “revaluations” based on property prices hit traders with the second highest rise in the UK and the highest in London.

Since April more than 370 businesses in Hackney have been paying between £10,000 and £100,000 more a year.

Hackney received £7.1m of a £300million fund to help out the worst affected traders but it was a drop in the ocean as far as bosses were concerned – and will tail off after this year.

Now, on top of their new bill, traders are set to be hit by the annual inflationary rise of 3.9 per cent in April, a considerably higher rise than in recent years.

Business chief Cllr Guy Nicholson has written to chancellor Phillip Hammond warning the extra burden will be too much for some.

He said: “An extra rise on top of what is an already a very challenging time for our businesses, compounded by the uncertainty surrounding Brexit, would be extremely detrimental to one of London’s most thriving and innovative boroughs.

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“A negative impact on local businesses also hits the communities they serve in terms of lost services, jobs and opportunities. “We urge the Chancellor to rethink the hike and consider more the medium and long-term sustainability and growth of local businesses and economies.

“As the prime minister said last year, small and medium businesses are the backbone of our country, yet it is precisely these businesses which are bearing the brunt of these ongoing rises to business rates. Sadly, I know first-hand that many are already struggling to see a future for themselves.”

Cllr Nicholson also asked the chancellor to increase the £300m pot and the relief scheme for pubs, which is only for the current financial year.

Cllr Nicholson said: “These support schemes are welcome, and have benefited businesses in Hackney. However, these are only short-term measures when set against the ongoing year-on-year rises many of our businesses face as they transition to their new valuations.”