Can’t pay, won’t pay, but now even more to pay?

Mark Rigby, Chief Executive of CVS Business Rent
Mark Rigby, Chief Executive of CVS Business Rent

Rates bills for the county’s 11,981 businesses will rise by a staggering £4,022,706 from April 1 next year without any Government intervention.

The warning comes from CVS Business Rent & Rates Specialists, as the ONS last week reported the Retail Prices Index (RPI) rate of inflation at 3.9 per cent.

RPI affects business rates bills as the Uniform Business Rate (UBR) multiplier increases annually in line with September’s figure.

It has rapidly increased from two per cent last September to more than three per cent since February, before increasing from 3.6 per cent in July to 3.9 per cent in August – the highest level since January 2012.

The announcement means that on average, businesses across Northumberland will have to find an extra £336 each to pay the Government next year.

But for some, the struggle to pay is already too much.

An exclusive investigation by CVS shows that last year, 831 businesses in Northumberland were hauled before magistrates for non-payment of their business rates tax, fuelling claims that the current system is criminalising struggling businesses.

Under the Freedom of Information Act, all councils were asked to provide details of how many businesses had been summonsed, with details being provided by 258 councils on 1.43million out of the 1.9million business properties liable for rates across England and Wales.

The data reveals that seven per cent of businesses in the county received a summons to appear in court in the last financial year and that already, in the first five months of the 2017 financial year, a further 355 have been summonsed.

Mark Rigby, chief executive of CVS, has urged the Chancellor to be bold in his Autumn Budget and freeze rate rises next year.

“Property taxes in Britain are already the highest of any European nation both as a percentage of GDP and overall taxation,” he said.

“Brexit is driving inflation and businesses are holding off from investing because of the current economic climate of uncertainty. Insolvencies are expected to rise over the next two years. To plough ahead with such rate rises would be foolhardy and the Chancellor must be bold in his vision with a freeze.”