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Government 'receptive' on business rates worries

The business rates and rent specialist, CVS, has described the government as in “listening mode”, amid mounting concerns over the impending rise in business rates, following a meeting with communities and local government secretary Sajid Javid.

The meeting was aimed at diffusing the row over business rates, ahead of the upcoming budget, with the CVS describing the government as “receptive” to contingency measures aimed at minimising the pressure the rates rise could put on smaller businesses.

Mark Rigby, chief executive of CVS, commented: “The secretary of state was clearly in ‘listening mode’ and it was evident to me that he was acutely aware of the potential impact that the revaluation will bring to some communities and the anger felt by small businesses, particularly the retail and leisure sectors. He was clear in his determination to find a meaningful, targeted solution to ease the financial burden for those most in need ahead of the April tax changes.”

The CVS presented proposals for a financial assistance package, worth between £100m and £150m to assist smaller businesses with rates transitions. Part of this plan included proposed discounts for those businesses that would be hit with the biggest rates rises, as well as reforms to the business rates appeals system and the acceleration of the switch from the Retail Prices Index (RPI) to the Consumer Price Index (CPI) from 2020 to April 2017, to reduce the compound effect of inflationary increases.

Following the meeting, Rigby commented: “While we need to wait for the official announcement of the regulations, I left the meeting hugely optimistic and with the strongest possible indication that the government had listened and taken on board the concerns of business. I believe they are fully committed to ensuring all firms pay fair and accurate tax, without rebates being curtailed.”

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