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Freeze our rates, Redbridge businesses urge George Osborne

PUBLISHED: 15:56 28 February 2013 | UPDATED: 15:57 28 February 2013

Steve Eaton

Steve Eaton

Archant

Redbridge businesses are calling on the chancellor to freeze their rates in next month’s budget.

George Osborne is likely to raise the tax on business properties by 2.6 per cent, in line with September’s retail price index, a prospect which has been criticised by the business community.

Steve Eaton, chairman of the Barkingside Traders’ Association and owner of Eaton Hair in State Parade, Barkingside, agrees with the British Retail Consortium that the rates should be frozen or even reduced.

Business rates are based on a property’s rental value and a rating multiplier set by central government. They contribute towards the provision of local services.

The rates are collected by Redbridge Council, which applies any reliefs.

Mr Eaton said: “All the businesses in Barkingside would want a freeze. It’s too big now and that’s why a lot of shops close.

“I pay £698 a month. [The expected increase] is going to push it over £700 a month, but we don’t get anything for it. We pay for a waste disposal service on top of that.

“All the council says is, ‘we don’t set the rates’, but that doesn’t help us.”

Mr Eaton said he did not feel comfortable passing the cost of any rise on to customers, fearing they “won’t come in” and that rates have contributed to shop closures.

Geoff Hill, chairman of Redbridge Chamber of Commerce, said: “If business rates are rising, then it’s bad news for local businesses and not a pro-business message from the government.”

Iain Wicks, development manager of the Federation of Small Businesses’ Essex branch, said: “High business rates are having a devastating effect on small firms.

“Councils and government should be looking at how they can support micro firms with rate relief and business-friendly parking policy.”

A council spokesman said: “After business rates have been collected, the money is pooled and redistributed by central government. We use [it] to provide services to the local community.”

Any changes to business rates would take effect from April 1.


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