Hackney Council has teamed up with local traders to launch a petition opposing the government’s looming business rates hike.
In April, small businesses across the borough will be faced with bills that are thousands of pounds higher than last year, and rates may continue to rise every year until 2022. This is due to the government revaluing business premises, which the rates are based on.
Hackney is the most severely affected borough in London, with an average rateable value increase of 46% – five times the average in England. More than 370 businesses could face a rise in their rates of between £10,000 and £100,000.
The petition, launched by Hackney Council in partnership with the East End Trades Guild (EETG), which represents small businesses, calls on the government to rethink its plans and bring in measures to protect those disproportionately affected by its revaluations. So far, it has been signed by nearly 2,500 people.
EETG founder Paul Gardner, owner of Gardners’ Bags, was invited to Downing Street last year after being named one of Britain’s Top 100 Small Businesses. His family has been serving customers in the East End for 147 years.
The rateable value of Paul’s business is rising from £18,000 to £40,500. He said: “I was very honoured that I was invited. It was a defining moment in my life, going to 10 Downing Street. I think my mum will be very proud of me. The increase in rates I’m now looking at means not much of a future for my business. Most people who run a small business are already just keeping their heads above water.”
Stationery manufacturers Baddeley Brothers, which opened in the borough 157 years ago, has seen its rateable value rise from £60,000 to £156,000. Director Charles Pertwee said: “With this sort of increase, we’re talking peoples’ jobs. As a family business in its sixth generation this is not something we wish to consider. It will make us consider whether Hackney is a viable location to continue a light manufacturing businesses.”
Len Maloney runs JC Motors in Haggerston. The business works with a local charity to provide job opportunities and mentoring for young people. Len’s rateable value is increasing by about £10,000. He said: “I am so stressed because I see no hope for the business. Ministers should come down to ground level to see what businesses like ours do for our local communities.”
The Town Hall’s business supremo Guy Nicholson said: “This is a postcode lottery that doesn’t care about people or their businesses. The rise in rates could tear the heart out of our communities and our local economy. Our business communities, from established family businesses to innovative start-ups, are the corner stone of vibrant and enterprising areas like Hackney.”
Nicholson said the government’s suggestion that councils foot the bills for local businesses is “nonsensical” and he instead called for a “new, fair rates policy”.
EETG organiser Krissie Nicolson said: “The East End has a fine tradition of collective action, just look at the legacy of the Chartists and the Suffragettes. It’s always been people power that has made the world a better place, that’s why people should sign and share our petition as widely as possible, because it will give power to wider campaign for policy reform on these critical issues.”/ 15 February, 2017