Retailer slams promises of business rates reductions

A retailer has condemned promises of business rates relief as “a load of b***s***” and sees increases as a ticking time bomb.

Trevor Scott (pictured), owner of Rugby Fitted Kitchens, stated that he is “really concerned” for the continued sustainability of small high-street independents, as rates rises will affect more businesses than the Government would have us believe.

He criticised the Government for trying to convince the country that the rise in business rates would have a minimal effect on small- and medium- sized enterprises (SMEs), with many seeing a reduction in rates.

But, he claimed, retailers shouldn’t be deceived.

“After reading no end of government reports proclaiming that in worst case examples SMEs will only see a 5% increase in their rates this year, I was not that concerned,” he said. “Well, let me tell you now that my rates bill increase for this year alone averages 15%. So I’m not a happy bunny.”

He went on to say that while he could appeal it, he would run the risk of an upward rates revaluation.

He added that the much-trumpeted business rates decreases seemed to apply to a few “warehouse-style sheds” and not high-street retail premises, which could take a greater hit to their margins.

“I’m really concerned for the continued viability of many small high-street independents,” said Scott, “as this rates hike, combined with Business Improvement District (BID) payments in many towns, will bite into retailers’ margins and make it increasingly difficult for them to turn a profit, putting their entire business at risk. Is this really the actions of a Government that supports the entrepreneur? I’m not so sure.”

However, David Messenger, a designer with Yorkshire-based retailer Kitchen Elements, claimed that come the fiscal year his business rates would drop to zero for his premises.

The new threshold, which comes into effect April 1, will see business owners with a property at a rateable value of £12,000 pay nothing in business rates.

However, as one Scottish retailer received news of the business rates relief, he was simultaneously hit with news of a 34.5% rateable value increase notice from its Lothian Joint Valuation Board.

“I think Trevor Scott’s blood pressure could well level now when he is made aware of the increases in Scotland,” said Johnny J Bacigalupo, managing director of Napier Bathrooms & Interiors. “We also have to note that we get little to no service whatsoever for our money. I do totally agree with his quote about small business viability and the high street. We are still currently speechless and after a phone call to the council, have the right to appeal. But it seems that may be pointless or even more damaging potentially.”

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