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Bath MP Ben Howlett calls for reduced business rates in 'special case' for Bath ahead of 2017 Budget

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Written by: Bath Chronicle | Posted 23 February 2017 6:00

Bath MP Ben Howlett calls for reduced business rates in 'special case' for Bath ahead of 2017 Budget

Bath's MP has called for the city to be singled out for cheaper business rates after calling the it "a special case" ahead of the March Budget.

Ben Howlett is concerned that independent firms could see rates rise with little help from central government although an average decrease in business rates of 3.7 per cent has been mention.

The small business rates threshold in Bath is £20,000 compared to 28,000 in Greater London despite some Bath property prices being comparable to retail unit prices in the capital.

Mr Howlett has now written to the Chancellor Philip Hammond to ask if Bath's independent retailers can be given the same small business rateable value threshold as their London counterparts.

Ben Howlett on the High Street to show support for Society Cafe - pictured left alongside owners Jane and Adrian Campbell-Howard.

Mr Howlett said: "Bath is unique in its mix of cultural heritage and small, diverse, independent retailers and I want to see these small businesses thrive – hence my own Ben's Best of Bath Business Awards to recognise the outstanding contribution these small businesses make.

"I am concerned by the increasingly London-centric nature of economic policy, as London is not the only part of the country where property prices have risen extortionately in recent years. Why should small businesses in Bath be penalised for their part in a thriving economy when their counterparts in London receive significant additional support through a different small business rateable value threshold?

"I am also concerned that the 3.7% reduction stated in the letter to MPs from ministers hides many other assumptions that mean our small, independent businesses in Bath will take a greater proportion of the business rate rises, than their wealthier, multiple competitors."

The government has predicted Bath companies will pay £64 million in rates in the 2017/18 financial year and Bath and North East Somerset Council is to keep 100 per cent of the cash.

In the last financial year the council, in common with all other local authorities in England, was only allowed to keep half of the rates it collected.

But B&NES is taking part in a pilot scheme, along with other west of England region councils Bristol and South Gloucestershire, which will see all rates remain in B&NES.

Mr Hammond will deliver The Budget to the House of Commons on March 8.

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