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Councils urged to ease rates burden

A group of business organisations in Liverpool City Region has written jointly to urge local councils to use a new business rates relief fund to ease pressure on small firms, which have been hardest hit by the Government’s recent revaluation.

The letter, from FSB, Downtown Liverpool in Business and The Women’s Organisation, calls on the leaders of Liverpool City Council, Sefton Borough Council, Wirral Borough Council, Knowsley Borough Council, Halton Borough Council and St Helens Council to meet FSB’s five ‘small business principles’ to ensure small businesses can access part of a £300 million in additional relief announced in the Budget.

Chris Burgess, Chairman of FSB’s Merseyside, West Cheshire and Wigan region, said: “Our research shows that over half of small businesses experiencing a rates increase expect profits to fall. One in five may ultimately consider closing down or selling their business as a result of their new valuation.”

FSB’s five Small Business Principles are: 

  1. Commit to focusing this money on micro and small businesses, particularly those hardest hit by the revaluation;
  2. Commit to ensuring that funds are distributed as soon as possible and automatically refunding any firm which overpays their business rates;
  3. Commit to a communications campaign to make sure that all affected firms know how they can benefit from the discretionary funds you provide, and proactively approach businesses most in need;
  4. Commit to making any application process for funds as simple and straightforward as possible, so it is inclusive for the smallest firms in our area, and attaches no conditions aside from the size of a firm and how that firm is disadvantaged by the revaluation;
  5. Commit to passing a motion of the council, making clear it is the council’s view that business rates present significant hardship to small and micro businesses in particular, and that the council is acti ng to alleviate that hardship.