Campaign: Wetherby politicians speak out on business rates

Aerial view of the Sandbeck Industrial Estate and A1 in Wetherby. (02090216a)
Aerial view of the Sandbeck Industrial Estate and A1 in Wetherby. (02090216a)

The Wetherby News is calling on the government to overhaul its business ratings system, which is the highest in Europe.

Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne has said there will be a review of the system, but the Wetherby News and other sister titles in Johnston Press are pressing for this to come earlier than 2017, when the revaluation is scheduled.

The British Innovation and Rates Committee (Bira) has looked into the issue and called for a wholesale review, including whether retail taxes should be based on sales rather than the rateable value of a property.

Political representatives from the Wetherby area have had their say on why the system needs to change.

Mayor of Wetherby Harry Chapman said: “Speaking to the traders, this is one of their major concerns. It is a big problem for them, especially for one-man businesses.

“The rates are getting to the stage where businesses are going to have to move out of Wetherby and that doesn’t help the town.

“Nationally or certainly in Leeds people need to be helping market towns like hours and should be doing something about it.

“We have got quite a few empty shops now and certainly some of them have gone because of rent and rates.

“The two of them make quite a challenge for them and in Wetherby we have some very high rates.”

Currently business ratings mean shops in Britain are suffering under the highest property tax in Europe, which has risen by almost £700m in the last three years.

Elmet and Rothwell MP Alec Shelbrooke said: “Small businesses are the lifeblood of our economy and I am firmly on the side of the hardworking people and entrepreneurs who run them.

“Rate review for businesses in Wetherby is something often mentioned to me, so I was delighted when the government announced a £1,000 discount on the rates of retail premises if the property rateable value is under £50,000.”

Labour Parliamentary candidate Veronica King added: “Under the Tory-led government small firms have been hit by business rate hikes of £1,500 since 2010 on average.

“We recognise the pressure small firms are under which is why Labour will cut then freeze business rates to help small firms in Wetherby and across Elmet and Rothwell.”

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