Business rate hike worries

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LOCAL businesses are sitting on a financial timebomb that could see them paying an extra £54m in business rates next year, Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce has claimed.

Business rates are calculated using a multiplier based on September’s retail price inflation which stood at 5.6 per cent, the highest figure since 1991.

If the government chooses to implement this the Chamber’s chief economist says many businesses will be hit with a huge increase next year at a time when many are already facing rising prices and slowing demand.

Dr Brian Sloan said: “Using the 5.6 per cen t retail price inflation means businesses are sitting on a ticking timebomb ahead of next year’s business rates bills. We have calculated that in Greater Manchester this would mean businesses paying an extra £54.4m which is the equivalent cost of employing 2,400 staff or recruiting 11,400 apprentices.

“Business rates are a tax on property which all businesses are liable for irrespective of their ability to pay. We have seen a number of related issues with business rates over the last few years some of which are having damaging consequences.”

He said the Government could sort this out by freezing business rates at the 2011/12 level for 2012/13.