Chalk calls for softening of business rates burden amidst 8% overall bill decrease for Cheltenham firms

Cheltenham's MP, Alex Chalk, has welcomed the impending 8% average reduction in business rates for the town's businesses, while calling for measures to 'reduce the burden' for the minority of local companies whose rates are set to rise.

From April 2017, small businesses in Cheltenham with a rateable value of less than £12,000 will be exempt from business rates alltogether, with tapered relief available to businesses with a value of up to £15,000. Previously SBBR was only extended to properties with a value less than £6,000, with tapered relief up to £12,000. 

Research by Mr Chalk's office shows that on Bath Road alone, where property values have increased considerably since the last revaluation in 2010, at least 12 small businesses will be lifted out of paying business rates altogether, with an average saving of more than £2,000 over the next year, while a further 11 businesses will see an average saving of £845 in 2017/18, increasing to £1,500 per annum by 2020.

While welcoming this decreased financial burden for many businesses, the town's MP has called upon Ministers to soften the rates increase faced by the minority of local businesses, particularly those whose rateable value is set to rise above the £15,000 relief threshold as a result of the Valuation Office Agency's independent revaluation.

Mr Chalk has identified a number of businesses across the town that could see their rates increase more significantly than other local firms, with Cheltenham's pubs and restaurants set to be most acutely affected by the plans in their current form. Although a number of Cheltenham's pubs will be lifted out of paying rates alltogether, with an annual saving of up to to £5,000, two popular High Street venues face 72% and 43% increases respectively by 2020, while another in Montpellier will be asked to stump up an additional £20,000 per annum to the local Council from April.

The Government has already set aside £3.4 billion for transitional arrangements to mitigate the scale of the increases, capping the increase firms can face in the first year at 5% for small businesses, 12.5% for medium sized firms and 42% for the largest firms. 

Commenting on the scheme, Mr Chalk praised the ''welcome transitional relief'' but called on the Government to go further to mitigate the burden faced by some Cheltenham businesses from April. 

He said ''Cheltenham's small businesses are the lifeblood of our town and provide employment for local people. I'm delighted the Government is lifting many of these small businesses out of paying business rates altogether, as well as reducing the annual tax bills for many others. But I remain concerned about the increase faced by some businesses and I'm calling on the Government to continue to explore ways to soften impact of these changes, including looking again at the rate relief threshold and the upper transitional cap. I'm pleased that the Chancellor has indicated that he is in listening mode on this issue and has confirmed that moving forward the Government will look at ways to address the imbalance between high street and online retailers.''