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West End retailers face 38% rate hike

Retailers in London’s West End face a rate rise of £500m under the revaluation of business rates, Westminster City Council has warned.

According to The Daily Telegraph the council said that the imminent tax increase could hit the city’s fragile economy when businesses need all of the help they can get.

Westminster collects £1.2bn in rates every year. Rates are assessed every five years, but as the most recent revaluation was based on rents in April 2008, when pre-recession property values were at their peak, it will have a disproportionate impact. In Westminster the average bill is expected to rise 38%.

Cabinet member for economic development at Westminster City Council, councillor Brian Connell told the newspaper; “In areas such as Westminster, businesses will be particularly hard hit. My concern is that some could be pushed close to the brink and lay off staff unless the Government introduces radical reforms to prevent the system unfairly penalising successful areas.”

Jace Tyrrell, head of communication New West End Company, said: “Retail is the only industry that hasn’t been bailed out by the Government and the Government need to think about the pressures they are putting on retailers. Although sales in The West End are up 4.8% over the year to date, it is still tough out there.”

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