‘Fairer tax system needed so high streets can compete with online shops,’ says Bexhill MP

The current business rates system in the UK is ‘stifling investment’ and restricting the growth of small firms.

Wednesday, 3rd November 2021, 3:24 pm
MP Huw Merriman in the Commons. SUS-200212-101415001

The town’s chamber of commerce said small businesses working from home and selling online are ‘deterred’ from expanding and taking on premises due to the ‘fear’ of high business rates.

The comments come as Bexhill and Battle MP, Huw Merriman called for a reform in the system during a debate in the House of Commons.

Business rates currently vary depending on the size and location of the business premises and are based on the valuation of the property.

Mr Merriman said: “The UK has the largest property taxes. They are a tax on jobs and a tax on business, and I would like to see them reformed.

“We have had a number of reviews and the latest one referenced in the Budget last week does not deliver the radical reforms I want to see.

“I would dearly like to see business rates replaced.

“I represent a constituency in Sussex that is reliant in employment terms on small businesses in leisure, tourism and retail. Business rates are a tax on business and jobs and lead to uncertainty.”

Speaking after the debate in the Commons, Mr Merriman added: “We need to make the tax system fairer to ensure that all businesses contribute fairly and so that our high streets can compete more favourably with online-only shops.

“To do this, we need to ensure that tax is based on turnover or sales rather than property and this is what I called for in the debate on supporting small business.”

Howard Martin, president of Bexhill Chamber of Commerce, said: “Bexhill Chamber of Commerce has long campaigned for the complete overhaul of the business rates tax system.

“As a property-based tax it stifles investment and restricts growth of small businesses. A very successful micro business working from home selling online is deterred from expanding and taking on premises because of the fear of high business rates.

“The system of local Governemnt rates relief is overly complex and time-consuming. We would like to see a turnover tax system whereby business taxation is based on business turnover rather than premises size, therefore creating a level playing field for everyone from Amazon to the smallest businesses operating from home.

“This could easily be tied to the VAT threshold to exclude some small businesses altogether.

“We fully support Huw Merriman in this campaign and hops that it is successful sooner rather than later. Businesses need every bit of help they can get.”