Small business warning over business rate changes

The High Street in Southwold on a busy summers day in August.Picture: James Bass

The High Street in Southwold on a busy summers day in August.Picture: James Bass - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2016

Small firms could be squeezed out of town centres as business rates rise, an expert has warned.

Changes to rateable values, from which business rates are calculated, could see many high street shops paying double what they have paid for the past five years after the latest revaluation.

Jackie Crisp, partner at Roche Chartered Surveyors, said she feared for small businesses in areas such as Southwold and Burnham Market, which have seen a large increase.

Speaking at a property seminar by law firm Birketts in Norwich yesterday, she said: 'The real issues are with small businesses. They are part of our charm and part of the offering in those small towns.

'There are going to be new rating assessments and, in places such as Southwold and Burnham Market, substantial increases.

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'I think it is going to be a bit of a problem and for some small businesses it may prove very difficult.'

One reason she suggested might be behind the increase was large companies moving into the area and paying higher rents – which then pushed the business rate calculation up.

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Southwold-based bakery Two Magpies is one of the businesses on the town's High Street which is facing a rates hike.

Owner Rebecca Bishop said the business, which includes a café and shop, was looking at its business rate more than trebling from £9,200 to £31,750.

She said: 'The shop hasn't got bigger, we've not got a lot more customers or product to sell but we are going to have to pay more.'

Southwold High Street has seen its rateable value increase from £240 per sq m in 2010 to £700 per sq m in 2016 while Burnham Market High Street will go from £250 per sq m to £500 per sq m.

Birketts, in partnership with business advisers BDO and Roche, held the commercial property seminar to update landlords, developers and business leaders on the changes in law and recent and future legislation.

Will you be affected by the changes to business rates? Email

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