Business Rate reform should see ‘level playing field’ for shops and bars in Southport


A councillor has called for a fair deal for businesses in Southport following the revelation that similar-sized businesses only yards away from each other in Birkdale have being charged 300 per cent different levels of business rates.

The anomaly arises because Sefton Council has sometimes failed to carried out routine notification to the Business Rate department when a property changes use type, say from a shop to a bar or restaurant. The Council has promised to do this in future and is looking at its present database.

“We have a situation in Birkdale Village,” says Councillor Dawson, ” where one bar is literally ‘the wrong side of the tracks’. This means customers on one side of the railway line are having to pay higher prices to help keep their favorite bar’s owners pay much higher levels of rates than have been paid by the competition.”

“We are not talking ‘peanuts’ or ‘pretzels’ here,” says Councillor Dawson. “It is totally unfair competition.”

“Of course, a lot of these anomalies would have been ironed out if the government had completed a business rate revaluation as they should have years ago.”

“It is good that George Osborne has finally agreed today to let local councils retain all £26 billion of revenue from business rates to spend on local services. That may cause councils to be more diligent in ensuring that all properties are rated on the same basis.”

Fixing the current broken system of financing local government could be a significant boost to local growth, help attract business and create jobs. If the reforms go through, it will mean local government retaining all revenue from business rates for the first time since 1990. Currently, business rates are collected by the Councils, but then transferred to central government to be distributed back to local areas in the form of grant. Since 2013, local councils have been enabled to retain 50 per cent of the proceeds of rates, to ensure that when local areas take steps to boost business growth in their area, they should see the benefit.


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