FSB calls for govt rate relief commitment

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FSB calls for govt rate relief commitment (image credit: iStock)

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has called on the government to make a firm commitment to introducing new measures for small business rate relief, which were announced in this year's annual Budget.

Following the publication of an update on Business Rate Relief across England by the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) at the end of last week (September 30th), the government is now in a position to ensure a far-reaching change to the level of taxation on premises across the country will come into force as early as April 2017.

FSB national chairman Mike Cherry commented that the organisation has long campaigned for this essential work to be carried out and it is therefore excellent news that the VOA is now pushing ahead with these plans.

However, the transitional nature of government at present - the fact that new prime minister Theresa May and chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond have only been in office for a short period - means there is rising concern that the valuation process could now change before it is fully rolled out.

Mr Cherry stated: "We urge the new government to fully commit to the changes to Small Business Rate Relief announced in the March 2016 Budget.

"Small firms with a rateable value of less than £12,000 will pay no business rates at all, with further assistance provided to those with a rateable value of under £51,000. This means that today's revaluations could have big consequences, especially for those firms on the margins of these cut-off points."

He added that the move will bring real and lasting relief to many businesses across the country, with many having been subject to overpayment for years.

There is likely to be a large shift in many valuations under the new regime and it is therefore essential that the government fulfils its commitment to small business operators, which the former chancellor George Osborne set out earlier this year.

"FSB has fought long and hard for fundamental reform of the business rates system, an unfair tax which takes no account of how businesses are actually performing," Mr Cherry concluded.

"This review has been delayed by two years and means small businesses have been paying rates based on 2008 valuations which are now out of date."

This is a situation, he argues, which simply cannot be allowed to continue.