"The Government is adding to the pressures on local firms and small shops in North West Hants by hiking their business rates during the recession. As business rate demands are being sent to local firms, many are seeing startling rises in their bills this year, with the prospect of even bigger hikes next year. After rent and staff, business rates are the next biggest cost to local firms."
Business rates are to rise by 5.0 per cent this April, despite RPI inflation forecast to be negative, due to a statistical quirk in the way business rate rises are calculated. This will increase the burden of rates by £1 billion a year. The average business rate bill in Test Valley is £10109; this rise will push it up to £10614.
In Basingstoke and Deane,the figures are £16552, and £17380.
Transitional relief from the 2005 business rates revaluation has now expired, further pushing up bills for many firms in April 2009 by two or three times, and raising another £100 million.
Small firms are not claiming small business rate relief because they have to fill out complex paperwork. By contrast, in Wales, small business rate relief has been automatic since 2007.
"A number of firms have contacted me, asking why their rates have gone up. The answer is that this is not the responsibility of the local council, but of the Government."