Doncaster business leaders support rates reduction campaign

Dan Fell of Doncaster Chamber.
Dan Fell of Doncaster Chamber.

Scores of business leaders have spoken out today to support The Star’s campaign to reduce astronomical business rates.

Representatives from regional and national organisations put their weight behind the cause after Doncaster shopkeepers issued an urgent plea to ‘Save Our High Street’ last week.

Penny Morduant.

Penny Morduant.

Through our ‘Shop Local’ campaign, The Star is calling for an urgent reform of the business rating system.

We demand that business rates are frozen immediately while an urgent review of the system is conducted.

Many small business owners have highlighted how they are struggling because they are having to find thousands of pounds in rent each year, and are up against competition from internet shopping and the effects of the recession.

Doncaster Chamber said about 100 business owners out of 500 who replied to their latest quarterly economic survey reported high business rates as a cause for concern.

Dan Fell, deputy chief executive officer for the chamber, is calling for rates to be frozen until 2017.

He said: “Business rates remain a concern for businesses locally, with retailers feeling the pinch more than most. Doncaster, due to its business demographic, is adversely affected more then most by the business rates system that impacts negatively on the growth and cash-flow of businesses even before a single sale has been made.”

Neville Martin, development manager for the Federation of Small Businesses, said business rates are the third biggest expense for many small businesses after rents and wages.

He added: “It is the only tax not related to the ability to pay, so it places a disproportionate burden on small businesses.”

Alan Hawkins, chief executive officer of the British Independent Retailers Association, said: “What is needed in the run-up to the general election is real commitment from the political parties to fundamental change in the way the tax works.”

Helen Dickinson, director general of British Retail Consortium, added: “This is a painful time in a retailer’s calendar as they are reminded of the ever-increasing burden of business rates. This rate only ever goes up.”

Penny Mordaunt, high streets minister, has defended the Government’s stance on the controversial business rates system.

She said the Government’s decision to delay the review until 2017 was of benefit to businesses. She added: “We have already taken targeted action, including providing over £1 billion of business rates support, introducing a new £1,000 retail discount, and doubling small business rate relief - helping an estimated half a million small firms.”

A petition in support of The Star’s campaign already has more than 500 signatures: www.change.org/p/uk-government-launch-an-immediate-review-of-the-business-rates-system-in-england-freezing-rates-in-the-interim