Friday, August 21, 2009

More Pain for Small Business

We worry about the unrelenting closure of businesses in our High Streets but Government tax plans now threaten to make this even worse, with the impact felt even more keenly in deprived areas of the country such as Thanet.

Thanet, like many other local councils fighting the impact of the recession, complained vigorously over the business rates fiasco which has driven so many small shops and businesses to the wall but now, predicted tax rises of £100 million are threatening to accelerate this process.

According to reports in today's papers, Ministers have admitted that 100,000 of the smallest companies are likely to be taxed an average of £1,000 extra each over the next three years.

The Government's own estimates suggest that one in 20 small businesses will fail while trying to pay and suggest that the Government's decision to end relief on business rates will see small companies have to pay £40million more this year, £30million more in 2010-11, and £30million more in 2011-12.

Business rates, which are the equivalent of council tax for companies, are based on the rateable value of the premises, roughly the same as a year's rent.

Every five years, premises are revalued to calculate rate levels - but increases are traditionally phased in over the following five years to protect many companies from large rises in bills.

However, transitional relief from the last revaluation of commercial property in 2005 has been allowed to expire early this year, hitting many companies. Some who had enjoyed long-term relief are faced with a decade's worth of increased bills.

The Government has previously repeatedly refused to answer Parliamentary questions on the number of firms subject to transitional relief.

Small businesses are the life blood of this country and have a disproportionate influence on the local economy outside the big cities. While recognising the urgent need for Government to raise taxes to plug the £50billion - £90billion hole in its finances, driving small business ever more quickly to the wall and steadily emptying our struggling High Streets as a result is not the answer.

Invariably, the local council, as the Government's business rates 'Tax collector' takes the blame for lines of empty shops but the real responsibility lies elsewhere and at the present rate of attrition, the future for our battered High Streets looks grim indeed!

14 comments:

derick97 said...

The Local Council gave planning permission for WC, so they are to blame

DrM. said...

So here's a thought.. without Westwood Cross, the local High Streets would still be thriving and local people wouldn't be going to Canterbury, as they did before it was built?

Is that what you are saying?

Anonymous said...

Ahh but before WC was built we were all led to believe(by Iris et al) that there were shops that were in canterbury-Debenhams Moonsoon,fenwicks etc and not the ones in our high street ie M&S River Island Dorothy Perkins,but what happened M&S applied and got pemission and BINGO the rest all followed suit...

montgomery mole said...

But if local people shopped in the town centre westwood would have failed, it seems the vast majority have spoken.

Anonymous said...

The M&S shop that was In margate was always very busy,I know someone who works at WC and they said they are not busy and have very few staff-also it is not a patch on the one in canterbury which has a much better range with much more choice,also WC is souless no trees or sculptures,and uncovered,so when the wind blows it howls up there and if it rains you get drenched(Unlike Bluewater)

Anonymous said...

MM I think you have missed the point-There are no shops for people to shop in-they have all been allowed to go to WC...

Anonymous said...

It has to be said that the M&S store at WC is disappointingly small and cramped for an area the size of Thanet. More so when pitched alongside the Canterbury store, which is one of the biggest M&S stores in the country. Deal's M&S is smaller still but always manages to look inviting to loyal customers.

It comes back to the shops selling things people wanting, or needing, to buy. We need to buy food and clothes so we go to where those shops are located - at Westwood and surrounding areas. Of course the others will follow if they can afford the rents.

Free parking is also a key attraction, something you don't get in any of Thanet's town centres except Westgate. Perhaps that's partly down to Dr M's influence but the shops there are still open.

Peter Checksfield said...

Doesn't anyone walk or get buses to shops anymore???

Stop Manston Expansion Group said...

It's a lot easier to shop for one on foot or on the bus Pete.

Dr M, looking at old press cutting from the pre-WC days when TDC were buttering up the locals so the flack was minimal when they rubber stamped it, I feel Thanet was hoodwinked - again. "Large brands will not open stores in Thanet. We can attract quality retailers, in particular mens fashion" was one quip fro, the council.

It's hardly Milan now......

WC has removed any possibility of a major retailer opening/reopening in the town centres of margate, broadstairs, ramsgate.

TDC have demonstrated in recent times they have no idea how to zone the area they control. Retail, residential, agriculture, industry, leisure. They are all in conflict and that is down to woeful management at the top.

Peter Checksfield said...

I know plenty of single people who still insist on using the car as well as getting all their shopping under one roof...

My point is that our town centres were designed & built long before the advent of cars, & with each year there's more & more people unwilling to use their feet or public transport (& I'm talking about going to the cinema, out for a meal etc as well as shopping). What are we supposed to do, continue knocking down buildings & laying down vast spaces of concrete all the time? Hopefully as more people become environmentally aware they'll start shopping more locally or use public transport more, & one day vast car parks miles away from town centres will be deemed totally unacceptable by the vast majority of people.

SMEG, if you're as environmentally concios as you make out then you'll be as opposed to unneccesary use of cars as much as planes.

Anonymous said...

The problem is, there are no town centre sites big enough for major retailers, and the ground rents in all our town centres are far too high. That is the fault of the landlords, mainly the church and universities, also pension funds.

Anonymous said...

There are several large empty spaces in Margate & Cliftonville...

Anonymous said...

There are too many shopping centres for such a small area with too few people to support them, Decent nationals were never going to be able to be profitable in these circumstances so have taken up the better option for them at WC. We are lucky that we have so many alternatives in our centres but unless we achieve significant increase in population from new houses or business growth none of the centres will be attractive enough for retail entrepreneurs.

Mr Friday said...

Well, this was no big surprise you know. The relief ending early was announced in 2005 so why make a fuss of it now ?

What representations did TDC make to the Government at the time I wonder ?