Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Triple Business Rates Increase 'Is Putting Small Traders at Risk'

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Triple Business Rates Increase 'Is Putting Small Traders at Risk'

Article excerpt

Byline: Nicholas Cecil and Miranda Bryant

SMALL firms face being driven to the wall by a "triple whammy" of business rate increases, MPs were warned today.

Mark Field, Conservative member for Cities of London and Westminster, accused Chancellor Alistair Darling of seeking to "plunder" businesses and treating them like "cash cows".

In a Commons debate, Mr Field highlighted the impact of three tax moves: The five per cent increase in business rates this year.

The business rate revaluation, which will come into effect in April next year.

The levy being imposed to raise [pounds sterling]3.5 billion for Crossrail.

Mr Field told MPs today: "Many firms will have to absorb a triple whammy of taxation. Companies in my constituency are being plundered to such a degree that I fear their success is being taken for granted. With trading conditions so tough, such a level of taxation could scupper the city's fragile economy."

He said that with a revaluation of last year's property rental values, the average business rates bill in Westminster is expected to soar by 38 per cent next year. The move would rake in an extra [pounds sterling]456 million for the Treasury.

While the revaluation aimed to be fiscally neutral, many firms in the capital would lose out because of the high rental values before the recession. Mr Field said a very big Oxford Street store would face an estimated [pounds sterling]3 million rise in business rates for 2010/11. For a small firm in Soho the figure would be [pounds sterling]1,500.

Meanwhile, companies with a rateable value of more than [pounds sterling]50,000 have to pay the Crossrail levy.

Mr Field said increased valuations would also push about 3,500 more Westminster companies above that threshold.

One Soho trader, Richard Piercy, 47, who owns Zest Pharmacy in Broadwick Street, said: "My shop has been here since 1950 so is a real part of the community.

I love working in Soho but I'm very worried by these huge business rate increases. …

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