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100 traders urge Government to lower business rates
ONE hundred business bosses are calling for the Government to urgently reassess business rates which they say are strangling traders in Marlow town centre.
Commerce chiefs will write to Business Secretary Vince Cable to ask him to lower the fees, which have been identified as a prime reason for small firms struggling.
The campaign is being orchestrated by The Marlow and District Chamber of Trade.
Although it varies, traders can shell out thousands, if not tens of thousands of pounds on business rates per year, it said.
Chamber president Annie Mulady said: "We are going to be lobbying the Government, regarding business rates.
"Marlow is perceived as an affluent area and that it doesn't struggle. But in actual fact, it does struggle.
"And you only have to look at the towns that are next door, High Wycombe and Maidenhead, which are really struggling."
She said business rates are now the top concern for her members, with rents, though she conceded it can not do anything about the latter issue.
She said: "We will need to lobby hard but I believe we are on the side of a number of other organisations, we are joining with these rather than being a lone voice."
Business rates are a tax paid monthly to Wycombe District Council. The rates are worked out by the Valuation Office Agency, which calculates the rateable value of a property.
Rates are influenced by a property’s rental value with a multiplier set by central government.
National business rates are still being based on 2008 prices, set before the property market crashed, and therefore considered high.
Ms Mulady's message to Ministers will be: "If you want to boost the economy and boost the businesses while they are struggling then you can do that through rates."
To make the message as strong as possible Ms Mulady urged more companies to join the chamber.
The British Retail Consortium backed the chamber's campaign, saying: "There is a growing consensus that the business rates system is no longer fit for purpose.
"The single most important step towards reviving high streets and boosting retail jobs across the country would be a complete reform of the system.
"Business rates force retailers to pay disproportionately more tax than other sectors."
"They are less competitive than property taxes in other countries, distort occupancy costs and lead to vacant shops. Reform would be hugely beneficial to local communities and the wider UK economy."
The Department for Communities and Local Government, responsible for the policy on rates, has not issued a response.
The Valuation Office Agency said ratepayers who think their rateable value is not a fair reflection of the rental value should ask it to check it for them free of charge.
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