SMEs urge government to simplify UK business rates system

A report published by banking group Close Brothers has revealed that 71% of UK small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) would like the UK’s business rates system to be made ‘simpler and more flexible’.

The report also suggested that 49% of SMEs believe that the government is ‘not doing enough’ to help businesses with business rates relief. Just 36% believe that they receive adequate support from the government in regard to their business rates.

In addition, Close Brothers revealed that 56% of UK small firms have experienced increases in their business rates over the past two years. London, South West England, Yorkshire and Scotland in particular have been adversely affected by rate rises ‘above the UK average’, the report suggested.

Commenting on the matter, Neil Davies, CEO of Close Brothers, stated: ‘Steps are being taken, as demonstrated by an initiative that’s been in place from 1 April 2017 that saw 100% relief, doubled from the usual rate of 50%, for properties with a rateable value of £12,000 or less.

‘That said, the message from SMEs is clear that more needs to be done.’

In the 2017 Autumn Budget, Chancellor Philip Hammond announced that future business rates revaluations will occur more frequently. Revaluations will now take place every three years rather than every five years, beginning after the next revaluation, which is currently due in 2021.

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