Northamptonshire business leaders call for rates freeze

Paul Griffiths, Chief Executive of Northamptonshire Chamber
Paul Griffiths, Chief Executive of Northamptonshire Chamber
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Northamptonshire Chamber is calling on Chancellor George Osborne to freeze business rates for the next two years in his Autumn Statement on December 5.

A spokesman for he chamber said: “Every year thousands of companies across Northamptonshire are affected by spiralling business rate bills which prevents growth and slows down the recovery of the local economy.”

The Chamber is joining the British Chambers of Commerce campaign by urging the Chancellor to carry out an extensive review of the current business rates system and to reform the framework by 2015.

Business rates are paid by occupiers and owners of commercial and industrial property to the local authority but at a rate set by the Government.

Companies have already had to absorb the 2.6 per cent rise in April 2013, which followed a 5.6 per cent rise in 2012 and a 4.6 per cent rise in 2011.

Paul Griffiths, Chief Executive of Northamptonshire Chamber, said: “Business rates hits companies of all sizes long before they a make profit, and acts as a drag on business growth and investment.

“They are fixed no matter the stage of the economic cycle, company performance or ability to pay. Companies have had no choice but to absorb these annual increases.

“It is clearly an issue which has been raised repeatedly by companies in our Quarterly Economic Survey, where it has been cited as one of the most common factors affecting trade.”

He said: “We need a new framework that is fair, more flexible, transparent and responsive to changes in the economic environment.

“Northamptonshire Chamber knows this costs money, but there is scope to do it within the government’s fiscal plan.

“That way, businesses can put more money into driving economic growth, which benefits companies far more than the cost to the Treasury.”