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Gary Streeter MP for South West Devon

Gary writes a weekly article which appears in the Plympton Plymstock and Ivybridge News in South West Devon. The articles are published here.

 

Thursday, 23 February 2017

INDEPENDENT BUSINESS RATE REVALUATION

Government spends about £750 billion a year of which about £23 billion comes in from business rates. It is right that businesses should contribute towards the general cost of running the country from which they benefit greatly – from having pavements and roads to employees who have been educated. Our health system, legal system and emergency services all benefit businesses.

Over the next few weeks all local firms will start to receive their bills for the next 12 months. These will be the first bills under a revaluation carried out by the independent Valuation Office Agency which is tasked with keeping our system up to date. There has been a lot of hype in the media about this, much of it inaccurate.

In fact, three-quarters of all businesses will see their rates fall or stay the same. Across the country 600,000 small businesses, the life-blood of our economy, will stop paying business rates altogether. In the South Hams part of my constituency the average reduction in bills will be over 5% and in Plympton and Plymstock 9.5%. Reductions. That is all to be welcomed.

Given that the new system has got to raise the same level of income as the previous one, for a minority of companies, the actual bill will rise. Fingers crossed for every local business.

I understand that many London based businesses will face higher rates bills, which reflects the reality on the ground about the added value to most businesses of being based in the Capital, with heightened accessibility to massive footfalls and international customers.

We will learn in the Budget on 8th March 2017 the current state of our nation's finances. This is not expected to be a very strong picture as government revenues have fallen against forecast since the Brexit vote last year. This is at a time when political pressure to find more money for the NHS and social care is growing rapidly and many of us also feel that we also need to invest more in our armed forces and security, given the unpredictable state of the world and the likelihood of conflict.

Given these pressures there is no prospect of the government being able to pull back from the business rate review, even though in some quarters it is causing concern. My approach is to support it, welcome the reduction for most local firms and fight for those who can make a case that they are being treated unfairly.

posted by Gary @ 09:35