In an open letter to Communities Secretary Sajid Javid Lambeth Council has joined business groups and London Councils in asking for the extra £885 million-a-year burden on London to be phased in over a longer period.
Businesses are arguing that the risk of such an unexpectedly large tax increase, with just six months’ notice to prepare for it, will result in a slowing of investment, job creation and profitability for business at a time when confidence and stability are needed more than ever.
Without extra measures, campaigners believe that businesses of all types will find it difficult to survive and grow, having a negative impact on the rest of the country in terms of supply chain, jobs and direct investment.
Word from the Cabinet
Cllr Paul McGlone, Deputy Leader, said: “From April this will be a big extra burden on businesses in Lambeth. We have lots of businesses in the borough and we are determined to do what we can to protect them from this financial hit.
“The council will be responsible for collecting the extra rates, but we will not gain a penny extra from it. The huge increase will hit Lambeth and London as a whole hard while providing no benefit to residents or businesses here.
“Lambeth has been working hard to foster entrepreneurship, and has had the biggest growth in new businesses of any London borough in recent years.
“The fear now is that this increase will snuff out these big strides that we have made as a borough. We’ll be working with local businesses and our Business Improvement Districts to urge the government not to let that happen.”
Ben Stephenson, Chief Executive of WeAreWaterloo, said: “Waterloo is characterised by – and valued for – a high number of independent businesses, which provide the area with a vibrant and eclectic atmosphere.
“The Business Improvement District is deeply concerned that the hike in business rates hitting them in April could force further closures on our high streets, with only chains able to cope due to falling business rates bills elsewhere in the country.
“The uncertainty surrounding Brexit, the lack of time in which to prepare for the larger than expected business rate increase, and the continuing use of property values to determine business rates compounds the sense among our members that the Government is woefully letting down London businesses. We welcome the opportunity to join the campaign to oppose these proposals.”
Call on the government
The campaign has called on Mr Javid to:
- Provide a transitional relief that will realistically enable small and large businesses to plan for the large rate rises, while not slowing the reduction in other parts of the UK
- Give positive consideration to mitigating proposals that will enable London businesses to generate the income needed to meet the rise
- Commit to a long term review of the effectiveness of business rates as a way of taxing businesses