Spare Kingston firms from 5% tax rise!

Next month’s 5% increase in business rates could be the final straw for some Kingston firms, the Leader of the Council has warned.

In a letter to Alistair Darling MP, the the Leader of the Council has called on the Chancellor to reverse the increase in business rates from 46.2p in the pound last year to 48.5p in the pound from April.

The recession is already starting to bite in Kingston, and local unemployment has reached its highest point for over a decade. Our firms need all the help they can get to stay in business and save local jobs.

Kingston has a thriving business community, from the retail sector that makes us the second most popular shopping centre in London to the small firms that are the lifeblood of the local economies throughout the borough.

Inevitably, the recession is having an impact, and our unemployment rate has hit an 11-year high. While we are taking action ourselves, such as speeding up the council’s payment of bills and encouraging small firms to apply for the small business rate, the 5% increase in the rates could prove to be the final straw for many firms.

It is especially troubling that, if the increase did go ahead, Kingston firms would see little or no benefit. It is estimated that in 2009/10 £79m will be collected from Kingston firms for the government, yet the council will only receive about £29m back.

“Here at the council we are doing what we can by helping small firms apply for a business rates discount and paying our bills to local businesses as quickly as possible. It is now time for the government to step up to the plate and do their bit, too.

“The government takes £79m from Kingston businesses through the rates, but only returns £29m to the borough. The business rates cost Kingston dear at the best of times. At the height of a recession they could be crippling.

“I am calling on the Chancellor to reverse this 5% tax rise. I am worried that this could be the final straw for some businesses, and that more local jobs could go.

“I want to build on our success earlier this month when we persuaded the government to reduce rent rises for council tenants. This is another issue about people who are under real pressure during the recession. The government must reverse this tax rise and help local firms.

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