BUDGET2015 - Local entrepreneur sceptical

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A LEADING local entrepreneur whose fashion boutique was forced to close due to high business rates says she is sceptical about regional devolution plans in the Budget.

Chancellor George Osborne told the House of Commons this afternoon that he was considering allowing Greater Manchester to keep 100 per cent of its business rates as part of the scheme for a Northern Powerhouse.

However Leigh entrepreneur Mandy Summerscales, whose Fashion PA store on Bradshawgate closed due to high rates and who also turned down the offer of a unit in The Galleries Shopping Centre, said the entire business rates system needs an overhaul.

She said: “I’m a bit sceptical about it because, even if Greater Manchester gets to keep its business rates, who will set the amount they collect?

“The Chamber of Commerce has been lobbying for years now to have the business rates calculation brought up to date, but is that going to be done? Or are they just going to ignore it and keep plodding along?

“The system is out of date. High streets are not the same any more, it’s the retail parks that are generating the money so they should be paying more.

“Retail parks have been encouraged to grow and high street retailers moving there have made town centres less attractive for people. This is why people won’t take empty shops as the rates are more expensive than the rental values.

“Online retailers can also sit in the back of beyond paying very little money and keeping greater profit margins.

“If they haven’t addressed this issue it is just another major disappointment and frustration for someone who is passionate about retail and the high street, which I think is the centre of our community.”