Saturday, 18 March 2017

"99% of East Devon's businesses are either micro or small enterprises" >>> Will the District Council be giving them 'discretionary relief' against business rate increases?

Small businesses are having a really hard time at the moment:
Futures Forum: Revolt against business rates: UK entrepreneurs pay more than France and Germany combined
Futures Forum: County Council calls for "an urgent national review of local government funding" as "thousands of small businesses are set to be hammered by a rise in business rates"

Some short term help - and even some 'reform' - has been promised:
Futures Forum: Business rates: promising a 'fundamental reform of the system'

This is not going to be enough for many small businesses, as reported by the Herald:

Some small Sidmouth businesses will be hit hard by changes say owners

17 March 2017 Clarissa Place

Sharon Hobson of Flutterbys is also concerned about the rise in business rates for small businesses in larger properties.

Small business owners in Sidmouth are appealing for help after 
being hit by new business rates – caused because they are in larger premises.

Chancellor Philip Hammond announced in the budget last week that small businesses with a rateable value of £15,000 or less would pay nothing in business rates from April.

The changes affect Sharon Hobson of Flutterbys and Sidmouth Wine’s Natalie Bowditch, whose businesses will not qualify for small business rate relief because their rateable value is just over the threshold. The pair said this equates to paying more than £800 a month, an annual rise of eight per cent. Rateable value is an estimation of the open market rental by the Valuation Office Agency (VOA).

Sharon, who has owned Flutterbys for nearly five years, said: “We are really pleased for the people that have had that relief but we need some help getting through with the present climate and having an eight per cent increase. They [the Government] have helped a lot of people, but because we are in a bigger property we are not going to get any help. We’re trying to support the local economy and it’s getting thrown back in our faces. It’s only for small businesses in small properties. It’s putting the boot into the likes of us. We’re going up eight per cent along with the big businesses.

“I’m a growing business and I’m employing five members of part-time staff. I’m trying to grow it and things like this happen. I feel like I’m being squeezed out like a spot.”

Natalie Bowditch of Sidmouth Wines spoke to the Herald this week about her rise in business rates.

Natalie, who owns Sidmouth Wines with her partner Matthew Collings, added: “We are doing all the best we can to support the local economy. We live here, we work here and we love Sidmouth. They are not looking long term. If we have to leave at the end of our lease then they won’t be getting anything from the property.”

Also in the announcement, councils will receive part of a £300million fund to allow them to provide businesses with discretionary relief.

An East Devon District Council spokesman said: “Some businesses that pay their rates over 10 months may be unaware that they can spread the cost over 12 months (April to March). If businesses want to change to paying over 12 months then they need to get in touch with the council. We’re currently waiting for more details about additional funding to be provided by the Government. Once we have 
more information then we 
will ensure that those businesses that can directly benefit from this are notified.”

Some small Sidmouth businesses will be hit hard by changes say owners - News - Sidmouth Herald

The point is that Sidmouth and East Devon have a very high concentration of small businesses - and their importance to the local economy is paramount - although you wouldn't think so:
Futures Forum: "Statistics show us that small and medium-size businesses (including those in tourism) are our life blood." (2013)
Futures Forum: East Devon, the retail sector and questions about job creation: "How we can help meet the needs of business into the future in a world of enterprise and entrepreneurism..." (2014)
Futures Forum: In defence of Sidmouth's independent businesses (2015)
Futures Forum: SMEs, self employment and the sharing economy (2015)
Futures Forum: Corporation tax, small towns and small businesses >>> giving SMEs the same 'level playing field' as multinationals (2016)

As noted by the East Devon Watch blog, those in high places clearly have higher priorities:


18 MAR 2017

So why is our Local Enterprise Partnership made up of a handful of big business people, property developers and speculators? How do they represent East Devon

“4.4 We know that 99% of East Devon businesses are either micro or small enterprises. This is comparable with Exeter at 97%. This places our area in the top 30% of districts nationally for the number of micro businesses. The average business size is 6.4 employees which is below the Devon and Cornwall average of 8.1 and the national average of 9.9 employees.

4.5 In terms of the age 65+ population, there has been a significant rise of those who are economically active in the past decade. In 2005 just 5% of the 65+ population were economically active. In 2016 this has increased to 16.8%. This suggests that people are either choosing to postpone their retirement, continuing to work out of necessity or are re-entering the workplace post retirement.”

http://eastdevon.gov.uk/media/2047718/280317-overview-agenda-combined.pdf page 38

99% of businesses in East Devon are small businesses | East Devon Watch

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