Amid a backlash from the business community, the Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond is expected to use March’s Budget to include tweaks to the system. These could include lengthening the transitional period for companies that will face a rise.
However, small businesses are demanding a wholesale review of the system that taxes property rather than a company’s profits or turnover.
Jack Baggott, owner of Baggott Church Street Antiques in Stow on the Wold, told ATG: “It is crippling. The tinkering around the edges is not going to help. The tax should be on what is sold, not how big your shop is. The simple answer is to adopt the US system with a local and national sales tax.”
Baggott, whose rates rose to £35,000 from £16,000 in the 2010 revaluation, says he is being “ripped off”.
Antiques dealers in the south are particularly at risk from rate rises. Dealers in Portobello Road, occupying property that has risen sharply in value over the review period, are calling on visitors to sign a petition to ‘stop business rate rises before they wreck independent high street retailers’.
They say small businesses across the borough of Kensington & Chelsea are facing a 25% rates rise on average.
‘Throw in the towel’
Furniture dealer Tony Wilkinson, of TG Wilkinson Antiques in Petworth, said he will consider “throwing in the towel” in the event of a major rise.
“We are currently spending around £6500 a year against competitors here in Petworth in smaller shops that do not pay a penny. With rates, corporation tax and VAT I am paying more to the government each year than I draw in salary.”
Tim Bryars, an antiquarian book and map dealer in Cecil Court, central London, said: “There seems to be a growing realisation that taxing businesses based on property values may not be the fairest way of levying tax… Very few shopkeepers in hotspots like London own their own premises, and we see little or no benefit from inflated property prices.”
LAPADA chief executive Rebecca Davies said: “Government needs to look carefully at the impact of these rises and recognise that the loss of independent businesses will have a major cumulative effect on the UK economy.”