Martin Meech: hold those rate hikes.

Defer rate increases, say merchants

Published:  21 July, 2009

NORTHAMPTON: Leading merchants want next year's rate increase deferred. The calls follow government consultation on a £2bn relief scheme for businesses.

Martin Meech, group property director at Travis Perkins said: "It's right to bring in a phased increase like this, but the general view is that the more sensible thing to do would be to defer the increase until we're in more normal circumstances."

The relief package, from the Department of Communities and Local Government is to mitigate losses for those businesses likely to suffer a rise in business rates when revaluation comes into effect in phases next year.

The Government claims retailers will be largely unaffected by the revaluation but they have criticised the increase as unfair, as the agreed figure is based on a period when property values were at their peak.

Commercial property prices fell by over 22% in 2008, according to a survey by Investment Property Databank.

The department is asking for feedback about how the relief package, funded by the redistribution of money collected from business rates, can be operated.

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