Business rates: Hackney traders slam ‘crippling, unfair’ increase that will see them pay up to £100,000 more
- Credit: Sarah Ainslie�
Hackney’s independent traders joined business experts at a campaign summit this morning to discuss the crippling impact of the government’s planned business rate increase.
Thousands of independent businesses are facing a steep rise in rates from April because of a revaluation based on property prices, which have more than doubled in parts of London.
Hackney has the highest rateable value increase in London, with an average rise of 46 per cent.
MP Meg Hillier joined Hackney mayor Philip Glanville in addressing the packed-out Hackney House meeting, organised by Hackney Council and the East End Trades Guild.
The mayor told guests Marcus Jones – the under-secretary of state for communities and local government – had responded to a letter the council sent warning the changes could cripple businesses.
Mr Glanville said: “He said in many areas rates will be lower, some businesses will get relief, and councils should and could pick up the extra costs if they want to.
“Absolutely cold comfort for east London.
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“We wrote back to him pointing out the shortcomings of his suggestions and invited him to attend today and explain that to you, but he hasn’t arrived and I guess he can’t make it.”
Mr Glanville will join a delegation handing in a petition urging the government to rethink at Downing Street on Friday next week.
It has 2,000 signatures, but campaigners hope to accumulate at least 10,000 by then.
If the proposals are not changed, more than 370 businesses in Hackney will face a rise of between £10,000 and £100,000 a year, with others swallowing an even greater increase.
To compound the situation, many businesses previously classed as “small” will become “medium”, meaning they will not be eligible for small business rates relief.
Jack Simpson, co-owner of Nook homeware shop in Stoke Newington Church Street, told the Gazette his rates are increasing from £11,000 to £18,500.
He is “annoyed” to be facing what he says is a “three-pronged attack”.
The rates increase will likely be compounded by an imminent rent review, he said – while Brexit means the shop is paying 20 per cent more to purchase goods from Europe than it was three years ago.
“It’s the unknown,” he added. “I don’t think we will have to shut down, but certainly a lot of our neighbours have shut down. Church Street is an independent road and the fear is we will have another faceless high street with bigger brands moving in who can afford it.”
A DCLG spokesman told the Gazette that making sure rates “more closely reflect the property market” would “improve fairness”.
See the petition here.