Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

'Don't Waver on Business Rates'

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

'Don't Waver on Business Rates'

Article excerpt

Byline: Jonathan Walker Political Editor @jonwalker121

NORTH East employers have urged Chancellor Philip Hammond to press ahead with controversial cuts to business rates, as the Government came under more pressure to rethink the plans.

National business organisations and much of the media have focused on the prospect of business rates increasing in the south of England, where property prices have soared.

But the Government's proposed revaluation will mean property taxes paid by employers actually fall in much of the North.

And the North East England Chamber of Commerce is campaigning to ensure the Government's proposed business rate revaluation goes ahead in April, on the grounds that it will benefit thousands of North East companies.

The Chamber also called for a complete overhaul of the whole rates system.

In a letter to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Jonathan Walker, Chamber head of policy and campaigns said: "The business rates revaluation is well overdue. We appreciate there will be some North East England businesses who will incur higher bills as a result and urge the Government to work with them to minimise these consequences.

"However, the revaluation is good news for many of our members and the average rates bills in the North East should fall, due to the much lower property prices in our region than substantial parts of the country."

The Department for Communities and Local Government says that business rates bills in Durham are set to fall 10% on average, before taking into account inflation, and in Newcastle the average reduction will be 11%.

Overall, the revaluation will be fiscally neutral, meaning lower bills in one part of the country are paid for by increases elsewhere.

Guy Opperman, Conservative MP for Hexham, defended the proposed changes. He said: "With the revaluation, rates in Northumberland will be, on average, 3% lower than they were before. …

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