IslingtonTribune

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Traders in ‘freeze business rates’ plea to Chancellor

Petition signed by more than 12,000 people is presented to Philip Hammond in bid to protect Islington businesses from harmful charges hike

03 March, 2017 — By Koos Couvée

Cllr Asima Shaikh, fourth from left, with traders, from left, Stacey Thomas, Hak Huseyin, Chapel Market Association chairman David Twydell and Susan Cropper at the Treasury

A PETITION signed by almost 13,000 people calling on the government to freeze plans to dramatically raise Islington business rates by 45 per cent was handed to the Treasury this week.

The petition, launched by Islington Chamber of Commerce and Angel Business Improvement District with support from Islington Council, was presented to officials ahead of next week’s budget by Chancellor Philip Hammond.

It asks the government to freeze the implementation of the business rates valuation until after Britain leaves the EU.

Signatories urged the Treasury to extend “transitional reliefs” for affected businesses – which would mean bills would increase at a lower rate over a greater time-span, thus helping small and medium-sized companies to cope with the effect of a significant rise.

The council’s economic development chief, Councillor Asima Shaikh, said: “The scale of this rise in business rateable values could have a destructive effect on our high streets. We urge the Treasury to stop these plans and support our shops and services in these turbulent times ahead.” Hak Huseyin, co-vice chairman of Islington Chamber of Commerce, added: “Who can justify these rises in any other part of business?

“It’s unheard of and simply unmanageable. We understand that rises happen. We can accept an increase in line with inflation, but to inflate the rates is unacceptable.”

Mr Huseyin, who runs Absolute Print in Junction Road, Archway, will see his rates rise to £15,000, up from £11,000 – a 36 per cent increase. One pub and live music venue, The Lexington in Pentonville Road, will face a rates rise of £16,000 from April after a whopping 200 per cent increase in its rateable value.

But Premier League clubs Arsenal – which generates more than £100 million from home games – and Chelsea will see a reduction from April. This has led many to call for wholesale reform of the way in which rates are calculated.

A government spokesman said: “As part of the revaluation of business rates to make bills fairer, measures such as transitional relief have been made available to support those seeing increases.

“However, government is looking at how best to provide further support to businesses facing the steepest increases. Ministers expect to be in a position to make an announcement at the time of the budget.”

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