There has been much talk recently of the impact of business rate changes – due to take effect from 1st April 2017 – on Somerset businesses. For many in the county, rates (based on new rateable values published last autumn) will actually be lower. However, certain areas – particularly West Somerset coastal and rural areas – will see significant rises, and the fairness of the valuations has been called into question. Relatively small holiday rental companies, for example, could see an increase of many thousands of pounds; some retail premises in Minehead, on the coast, are seeing 30% increases, whilst just over the road, businesses are seeing far lower rises. Experts say this is bound to have a knock-on effect on local economies, as well as on individual businesses, many of whom bring a lot of people into areas that rely on the tourism and leisure sectors for employment.
Currently, if you have a business with property that has a rateable value below £12,000 you don’t have to pay business rates, and if the RV is between £12-£15, 000 there is tapered relief. Relief is also available on agricultural land and in areas with populations below 3,000. Charities and sports clubs can apply for up to 80% rates relief, which, many retailers complain, is why so many charities can afford to open shops in areas where small traders have had to close.
Despite relief available, April’s increase is worrying many and there are calls for the government to take additional steps to ensure the changes are fair and do not put at the risk the contribution many small businesses make to local economies.
If you are concerned about the rise in business rates, contact your local council. If you want to find out more about business premises and rates in general, go to the www.gov.uk page.