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Black Country Chamber Urges Chancellor to Provide Clarity for Business in Spring Budget

Corin CraneWith the Spring Budget taking place this Wednesday (8th March), the Black Country Chamber of Commerce are calling for Chancellor Philip Hammond MP to provide clarity to businesses, particularly relating to business rates and the appeal process.

Last month, the government announced changes to the business rate appeal process, which could block many companies from appealing against unfair or incorrect business rate valuations. Under current law all appeals must be considered, but the newly proposed reforms would mean only ratepayers who claim that their rate is wildly inaccurate would have it rectified, and if the disputed amount falls within a ‘margin of error’ the appeal could be rejected. In essence, this could lead to 500,000 businesses across the country facing an increase of up to 300% on the rates that they are currently paying.

Dr Adam Marshall, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce, said: “Rising business concerns demonstrate the urgent need for action on business rates in the Budget this week. The UK had the highest business property taxes in the developed world even before the recent revaluation - hammering firms with sky-high costs before they turn over a single pound. This undermines business investment, which in 2016, fell for the first time in seven years.

Corin Crane, Chief Executive of the Black Country Chamber of Commerce, commented: “Businesses from across the Black Country have expressed concern over the burden of business rates and recent changes to the appeal process. Comparatively, since this time last year the number of companies who now regard business rates as being a key concern to their business has risen by 11%.

“In a wider context, the combined costs of currency depreciation, the new National Living Wage, Pensions auto-enrolment and rising energy prices will also have an impact upon businesses, and therefore urgent action is needed to reduce the upfront costs of doing business.    

“As a Chamber, we are calling for the Government to provide additional relief to those hit hardest by the re-evaluation of business rates and to reconsider the details of the appeal system.

“Furthermore, with the government poised to trigger Article 50 in the coming weeks, it is important that the Chancellor provides businesses with the clarity and support upon which they can plan long-term investment and growth. This will be critical for businesses throughout the country moving forwards and help to optimise national economic stability as Brexit negotiations commence.”

Black Country Chamber of Commerce will be running a Budget Briefing event at Grand Station in Wolverhampton, whereat delegates from the local business community will be able to watch the Chancellor’s announcement live and hear immediate reaction from a panel of industry leaders and professional services specialists. To register your place, or for more information, please contact the Events Team on 01902 912305.

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