Liberal Democrat Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Guildford, Kelly-Marie Blundell, has welcomed Danny Alexander, Chief Secretary to the Treasury's announcement of a new review of business rates, a proposal that echoes her priorities for Guildford. The review will make sure that the business market in Guildford and the UK is fit for small businesses and entrepreneurs.
The review, to be launched in Budget 2016, will examine the system's current structure and will consider how businesses use property, what the UK can learn from other countries about local business taxes, and how we could modernise the system so it better reflects changing property values.
Launching the review, Mr Alexander said; "For small businesses, especially in retail, the trading environment has changed a lot since business rates were introduced in 1990. There's more competition online and, during recent economic difficulties, the current business rates system did not respond well to the economic cycle and, in some cases, has actually made it worse. The time has come for a radical review of this important tax. We want to ensure the business rates system is fair, efficient and effective."
The current business rates system covers around 1.8 million non-domestic properties, including shops, offices and factories. The tax raised £20.5 billion in 2013/14.
Kelly-Marie Blundell welcomed the call. "I have worked with the Federation of Small Businesses and other collective groups to tackle the problems small businesses in Guildford and beyond face.
"With high rents, many small businesses and retail stores are driven out of Guildford, often paying more in business rates than they do for floor space. We need a market that benefits small businesses, allows competition to thrive and does not penalise the start-ups that keep Guildford unique and a thriving centre of business in Surrey."
Today’s announcement follows the Government’s commitment in December 2014 to conduct a review of business rates and implement a £1 billion package to reduce the cost of business rates in 2015-16, with particular support for the smallest businesses on the high street. Measures being introduced next month will see small business rate relief doubled for a further year, and business rates discounts for smaller retail premises increased.
Kelly-Marie Blundell added: "I know from my many conversations with local business people that business rates, in their current form, pose a very real cashflow problem for small businesses. Last year small firms accounted for 99.3% of all private sector businesses in the UK, 47.8% of private sector employment and 33.2% of private sector turnover. It is in no-one's interests for valuable local employers to be driven out of business due to the application of an unfair tax. The Liberal Democrats are committed to helping small businesses grow, take-on and retain employees. This review will ensure that a system first devised thirty years ago is reformed so as to be fit for purpose for the next twenty years."