Traders in Southwold use Lord Prior’s memorial service to highlight business rate increases
- Credit: Nick Butcher
Traders in a seaside town are planning to make a strong point about business rate rises as MPs visit tomorrow to attend a memorial service for a former cabinet minister.
Shopkeepers in Southwold are putting up window banners and posters stating the various percentage rate increases they each face from April.
They are hoping these will be seen by MPs from across the country attending the service tomorrow (Friday, February 10) in memory of Jim Prior, life peer Baron Prior of Brampton, MP for Lowestoft and later Waveney, and who served in Margaret Thatcher's cabinet.
Southwold Chamber of Trade member Rebecca Bishop, owner of the Two Magpies Bakery, said businesses in the town faced 'crippling' rate rises.
Her rates bill is due to increase 177% – the average increase in the town, though some traders face much higher rises.
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She said: 'We don't want to be disrespectful, but we know there will be a lot of high profile people in the town for the memorial service and we want to try to highlight an issue which is very important to Southwold.
'As businesses we accept that costs go up but we cannot accept how hard Southwold is being hit by the current review simply because land prices here have risen.
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'We feel the system is unfit for purpose.
'I have put a tag on a loaf of bread in my shop to show what I would have to sell it for at a 177% increase - £9. No-one is going to pay that. The increase will mean I have to find another £800 a month on top of my existing rates.'
Another business in the town is facing a rise from £7,000 to £19,000 a year – an extra £1,000 a month.
Rates are also set to increase in other east Suffolk towns – by up to 70% in Aldeburgh and 20% in Halesworth.
Suffolk Coastal MP Therese Coffey has written to all businesses on the High Street with details of how they can appeal the rateable value changes from the Valuation Office Agency if they think it is unfair. She said a number had already made successful challenges ahead of formal appeals.
The Government says it expects three-quarters of businesses across the country to see their rates either fall or remain the same, while the new rateable values will lead to a 13% drop in business rates for shops and a 7% reduction for offices in East Anglia.