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Petition launched to protect independent businesses from Government rate hikes

People are being urged to sign a petition protect London’s diverse independent business communities from the Government’s huge hikes in business rates.

In April, many small firms across the Capital will receive a rates bill thousands of pounds higher than in 2016. They could then face even higher rises each year until 2021/22. This is because Government has revalued their premises, which business rates are based on.

Hackney, where the ‘rateable value’ of some premises has more than doubled, is the most severely affected borough in London. It has an average rateable value increase of 46% – five times the England average. More than 370 businesses could face a rise in their rates of between £10,000 and £100,000 in April, with some looking at an even greater hike.

Compounding this is that many businesses which previously qualified for small business rates relief will no longer be eligible because their property value has risen so much.

The petition, launched by Hackney Council and the East End Trades Guild, which represents small businesses, calls on the Government to rethink its plans and bring in measures to protect businesses which are severely and disproportionately affected by its revaluations.

Cllr Guy Nicholson, Cabinet Member for Planning, Business and Investment
This is a postcode lottery that doesn’t care about people or their businesses. The rise in rates could tear the heart out of our communities and our local economy. Our business communities, from established family businesses to innovative start-ups, are the corner stone of vibrant and enterprising areas like Hackney.

“Currently thriving high streets and business clusters are at real risk of sliding into stagnation, forcing relocation instead of expansion, and replacing job creation with unemployment and empty buildings.

“Government’s current assertion that these businesses will be eligible for rates relief is often not the case, and its suggestion that Councils could pay the bills for their local businesses is nonsensical. Councils in London have already had half their funding cut since 2010, and are facing a further 30% cut over the next few years. We are calling on Government to work with us and design a new fair rates policy that will support our businesses not put them out of business.
Cllr Guy Nicholson, Cabinet Member for Planning, Business and Investment

Krissie Nicolson, Founding Organiser of the East End Trades Guild, said: “Many of our members have roles in civic life, they sit as governors in schools or run community projects. They are more than profit makers, they are our neighbours too. They bring a human face to the market and align commerce with the common good. If we lose our small businesses, then we lose our city. We can't stand by and let that happen, if we do nothing about the rates and rents hikes then we are complicit.

“We must take a stand, if we act and act together we can change the policy environment. The East End has a fine tradition of collective action, just look at the legacy of the Chartists and the Suffragettes. It's always been people power that has made the world a better place, that's why people should sign and share our petition as widely as possible, because it will give power to wider campaign for policy reform on these critical issues.”

Paul Gardner, owner of Gardners’ Bags and founder of the East End Trades Guild, was invited to a reception in 10 Downing Street after being named of Britain’s Top 100 Small Businesses. His family business has been serving customers in the East End for 147 years his, and he was congratulated by Small Business Minister Margot James MP (pictured below).

The rateable value of Paul’s business is rising from £18,000 to £40,500. He said: “I was very honoured that I was invited. It was a defining moment in my life, going to 10 Downing Street. I think my mum will be very proud of me. The increase in rates I’m now looking at means not much of a future for my business. Most people who run a small business are already just keeping their heads above water.”

Stationery manufacturers Baddeley Brothers, which opened in the borough 157 years ago, has seen its rateable value rise from £60,000 to £156,000. It has a proud tradition of hiring and training local residents, and currently employs 25 people. Director Charles Pertwee said: “With this sort of increase, we’re talking peoples’ jobs. As a family business in its sixth generation this is not something we wish to consider. It will make us consider whether Hackney is a viable location to continue a light manufacturing businesses.”

Len Maloney (pictured below) runs JC Motors in Haggerston. The business works with a local charity to provide job opportunities and mentoring for young people. Len’s rateable value is increasing by about £10,000. He said: “I am so stressed because I see no hope for the business. Ministers should come down to ground level to see what businesses like ours do for our local communities.”

The petition is available here.

Cllr Nicholson wrote to the Chancellor Philip Hammond in November about the impact of business rates revaluation in Hackney. The letter is available here.