Rural rate hikes hit hard
Philip Woolner, joint managing partner of Cheffins has cautioned companies in the region to deal with facts rather than scare stories over supposed hikes in business rates. The rural sector is the one feeling the pain, he says.
Woolner says: “Changes to business rates have dominated headlines over the past few days but we are advising business owners throughout East Anglia to carefully take stock.
“According to government data, business rates bills across the East of England for retail properties, offices and industrial units will actually go down by around six per cent in comparison with the previous Rating List.
“While there will be winners and losers in respect of new assessments, across the board East Anglia has suffered far less than London and the South East where the main increases have been felt.
“From the work we have done with our commercial clients in the region, apart from some notable exceptions, the proposed increases in rates payable have generally been modest.
“There is a significant issue, however, for the rural sector where there has been a disparate increase in the assessments. A number of rural companies are facing rate demands increasing by as much as eight times, with event venues, equine businesses and renewable energy ventures the hardest hit.
“Some rural businesses have seen rates hikes up by 100 per cent – 300 per cent against previous levels with some even reporting rises of 800 per cent.
“Another issue, is that the Government is proposing that it will make it increasingly difficult to appeal rate rises if they are within a margin of error of up to 15 per cent.
“This has been met with fury across the country with calls for this change to be repealed. On a property with a high Rateable Value a difference of 10-15 per cent in the valuation can add significant sums to a business’ rates bill.”