Having lived in East Sussex since 2006, I am passionate about the shops, producers and providers which make this part of the country so special. As a consumer of these products and services, I am aware how challenging the local economy can be and how the level of business rates can impact the bottom line.
The government recently carried out a review of business rates. It looked at alternatives to a property tax and concluded that none would be as efficient to collect, easier to link to the financing of local government, and are relatively stable and predictable when compared to other taxes. The full details of this review can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/510497/PU1925_Business_rates_review.pdf .
The Government has committed to help smaller businesses with their business rates. No business will have to pay business rates if the rateable value is less than £12,000. Help has also been given for those with rateable values above £12,000. These are welcome changes to help those with smaller premises.
However, I believe that the current system of business rates is out of date. Local businesses and independent retailers are the backbone of our economy in Bexhill and Battle. They provide essential services and local employment but often make slim profits. They are disproportionately taxed based on their premises compared to an online business that can make large profits and remain exempt from business rates due to the size of their premises.
In the two years I have been an MP, I have lobbied for changes to the system of business rates from the benches of the House of Commons and in meetings with Ministers. I will continue to do so.
I recognise, and welcome, that we have the lowest corporation tax rates in Europe but our property-based business rates are one of the highest in the continent. I will continue to lobby for reform.
My latest letter to the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government on business rates dated 3 September 2019 can be found at the link at the bottom of the page. I will post his reply once received.