Written by: Keith Tully
Published: 23rd March 2017
The incoming changes to the business rates regime in the UK are already taking their toll on small businesses throughout the country.
Thousands of small-scale enterprises are set to see their business rates revaluated in ways which will add to their overheads and potentially present them with a threat to their financial viability.
In fact, according to the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), as many as one in five of its members are fearful that they will be forced to sell up or close down as a result of the business rate changes, which are due to come into effect in April.
The FSB has also said that a majority (54 per cent) of the people it polled recently on the subject felt sure that business rate hikes will lead directly to a fall in their profits.
Against this backdrop, reports are emerging of small businesses around the country being forced to pre-emptively close their doors ahead of the nationwide updating of the business rates system.
In Scotland, an Aberdeenshire nursery business has blamed an expected rise in its business rates for a decision to close in recent days.
Meanwhile in Wandsworth in southwest London a family-run butchers called Dove and Son has reportedly been forced to close up shop after 127 years of operating as an independent enterprise as a result of “crippling” business rate overheads.
Small businesses based in London are expected to be hit particularly hard by the business rates overhaul.
A poll commissioned recently by the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) found that 60 per cent of businesses based in the capital are planning to make cutbacks, possibly including downsizing or relocation, as a result of the business rate revaluation.
The government and the chancellor Philip Hammond have said that they will be introducing transitional protections in support of small businesses affected by the incoming overhaul.
However, there are now widespread concerns among businesses and trade bodies around the country that this support will not be enough.
“All that has really been done is for the government to announce just enough to show that they recognise that in many cases the rises are unfair,” said Colin Stanbridge from the LCCI in a statement.
“We still need a full scale review of the business rates system and we need it before we see numerous businesses folding,” he said.