Business rates rises ‘affected Chichester in quite a bad way’

Chichester's Market Cross at the heart of the city centre. Business across the district and country have been affected by an increase to business rates
Chichester's Market Cross at the heart of the city centre. Business across the district and country have been affected by an increase to business rates

Business rates rises have ‘affected Chichester in quite a bad way’ compared to other areas, according to council officers.

Properties across the country were revalued in 2015 and the new rates, which are levied on non-domestic properties such as shops, offices, and warehouses, came into effect in April this year.

As many businesses have been hit with large increases the Government made a £300m discretionary fund available for those most affected.

Councils across the country have been put in charge of distributing the money and have been asked to draw up local schemes and decide how they operate.

Chichester District Council has been allocated £786,000 over the next four years, and is proposing to make the funding available to those with a rateable value up to £100,000.

The proposed scheme, which was supported by cabinet members today (Tuesday November 7), will complement the Government’s transitional relief scheme.

Paul Jobson, the council’s taxation manager, explained how the increases had ‘affected Chichester in quite a bad way compared to neighbouring authorities’.

The increases to business rates in the area was around double of those experienced in Worthing.

Eileen Lintill, deputy leader and cabinet member for community services, said: “We have 4,700 small and medium sized businesses across the district, of which 1,500 have experienced an increase in their business rates.

“We want to ensure that our share of the discretionary funding is used to help those that are in most need as a result of that revaluation process. Of the 1,500 businesses that have experienced an increase, approximately 1,200 will receive assistance from this scheme.”

Business rates are set by the Government and values for the properties set by the national Valuation Office Agency. A special formula to work out the cost is set by the Government.

It is then the role of each local authority, including Chichester District Council, to administer this by sending the bills to businesses and collecting the rates on behalf of the Government.

The money is then redistributed to councils by central government.

John Connor, cabinet member for environment services, said: “Once again we see this perception from Government that Chichester is an area that has lots of money available and is a rich area.

“We may be property rich but we are not necessarily money rich.”

Businesses with a rateable value of up to £20,000 will have their increases limited to four per cent for 2017/18, with those with a value of less or equal to £100,000 will have rises capped at five per cent.

This will complement the Government’s transitional relief scheme for 2017/18, which automatically limits increases for those with a value under £20,000 to 7.5 per cent, and rateable values up to £100,000 to 14.5 per cent.

Eligible businesses in the following three years will receive a fixed percentage of the previous year’s award as long as they remain in occupation of the property.

Those that become unoccupied or change ownership will not be eligible for the reduction.

The scheme is set to be approved by Full Council on Wednesday November 21.

Have you been affected by the increases? Email news@chiobserver.co.uk