Spurred on by the Harrogate Advertiser Series campaign to encourage an overhaul of business rates, the MP raised the issue with the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
Harrogate and Knaresborough MP Andrew Jones asked George Osborne at Treasury Questions this week whether the government would review the system of business rates, which the Harrogate Advertiser Series, with its Johnston Press sister titles, is campaigning towards.
In answer Mr Osborne said: “We are going to review the business rate system to make sure that it is simpler, fairer, more transparent and more responsive to economic circumstances.”
Mr Jones later told the Harrogate Advertiser the reasons behind his taking the issue forward, and his surprise at such a positive response.
“I raised the problem because has been raised by businesses in the area over the past few weeks and because of the very timely campaign from the Harrogate Advertiser,” he said.
“It is an important issue and I am happy to take it to the Chancellor. I think the Advertiser has hit on a very good campaign.
“Business rates have become a bit of a problem, that is why it is appropriate to have this review. We need to make sure we don’t put barriers in the way of small businesses existing and starting up.
“It was great to get such a positive response from the Chancellor. There will be a review and he said I will be very welcome to take part in that, which is exactly what I will do.
“The importance of the issue has been understood and that was very clear.”
Ahead of the Parliamentary election next year, Mr Jones, who will stand for the Conservatives, was joined by his competitors in calling on the government to look again at business rates, which leave traders with the highest property tax bills in Europe.
UKIP candidate David Simister said: “When you look at the many empty properties in Harrogate the main reason is the rates that put people out of business.
“A review has to be done and the government really has been very lax in doing this and it is really not fair on the business community.
“After a review I am sure in many cases rates would be reduced and businesses would have a chance of surviving.”
Lib Dem candidate Helen Flynn added: “My feeling has always been that it should be under local control how much is levied on businesses, because you know what infrastructure you need locally and you have greater accountability and I think that is really important if we are going to get people more engaged with democracy generally.
“We also have to incentivise with rates and introduce them slowly. The big guys can afford it, it is the small ones that struggle.”
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