Many small businesses in Lewes District face crippling rises in business rates from April this year. Pubs, shops, and many businesses are set to see their rates more than double over the next few years. Business owners report the large tax increases could make their businesses completely unviable.
Cllr Sarah Osborne, Group Leader of the Lib Dems at Lewes District Council, is calling for the "antiquated" system to be overhauled and says,
“This tax on businesses is a fundamentally flawed, regressive tax because it has no link with ability to pay.”
Cllr Osborne adds “The Government are risking killing off our high streets cutting the amount of tax paid by large retailers such as Amazon at the expense of our small shops, pubs, cafes and restaurants who may be forced out of business.”
At this week’s upcoming District Council meeting Sarah's colleague, Cllr Vic Ient, has tabled a question asking the Conservative leader to write to the government to request an urgent review to reduce the impact on small businesses.
For the first time for in 7 years there has been a business rates review. Linked with this, ministers have freed up the valuation 'ceiling' which has resulted in extraordinarily high increases for some businesses this year.
Kelly-Marie Blundell, Lib Dem Parliamentary Candidate for Lewes, who has campaigned on local business rates to benefit small companies, added;
"The towns and villages in Lewes thrive on small businesses and keeping trade local. To see a stealth tax in this way is an insult to our residents as well as risking jobs and homes."
"The Liberal Democrats nationally and locally are not the only organisation calling on the government to review these massive increases.
"The CBI, the IOD, the Federation of Small Businesses and the British Chamber of Commerce are all raising their concerns with the government. Let's hope they listen!"
What will the government do - we may not get the answer until the Chancellor publishes his Spring Budget on 8 March 2017.