Council welcomes business rates reduction
West Oxfordshire District Council welcomes the Government’s decision to spread the 5% increase in businesses rates from a one year period to over three years. Business rate increases are set by Central Government and they are collected on their behalf by local councils.
The Council has been lobbying the Government on behalf of local businesses and Cllr Barry Norton, Leader of the Council has written twice to the Chancellor of the Exchequer asking for a deferral of the 5% increase in business rates. The 5% increase set by Government is linked to September 2008’s inflation figure, but if it had been linked to December 2008’s inflation figure it would have been 0.9%.
Cllr Barry Norton said, “The District Council works closely with local businesses and so we are aware of the burden they would be facing with a 5% rates increase during a recession and this is why we campaigned on their behalf.
“We put the case for local businesses forward and I am pleased the Government has taken the decision to defer payment. However, an earlier decision would have helped greatly, which is why I wrote at the beginning of February so the original bills we have to send out would not have required adjustment. Bills based on a 5% increase have already been sent out now and it would have been helpful for both businesses and ourselves if the changes could have been sorted out before the billing process took place.”
The Government expects to get the revised regulations to all Councils by the summer. West Oxfordshire District Council will then write to businesses providing the option of a revised schedule of payments for 2009-10 bills. In the meantime, businesses should continue to pay their bills as normal.
Barry Wheatley, Chairman of the Oxfordshire Branch of the Federation of Small Businesses said, “I am sure that hundreds of small businesses in the District are grateful to West Oxfordshire District Council for pushing for this reduction in rates. It’s a good example of how we can work together to achieve benefits for businesses. It is a pity that central government has waited until the rates bills have gone out before doing this.”
Cllr Warwick Robinson, Cabinet Member with responsibility for Economic Development said, “In these difficult times businesses need all the help they can get and as well as lobbying on their behalf, the Council is urging them to apply for any business rate relief they may be eligible for. Further information about small business rate relief is available on the Council’s website: www.westoxon.gov.uk/business.
“Small businesses operating from premises with a rateable value of less than £10,000 may be eligible for rate relief. We urge them to check and apply if they are not already claiming their relief.”
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