Burning Issue: How will changes to business rates this April impact on the North East? 

Stephen Patterson
Director of communications, NE1 Ltd 

It is welcome news for the region to have the business rate burden reduced for many businesses. This could make the North East more cost competitive nationally – but the devil is in the detail and the headline figures mask some significant and serious fluctuations. Newcastle’s leisure sector has grown significantly since the last revaluation and demand for premises has pushed up rent and rates. Central to Newcastle’s leisure sector growth has been the continued investment and innovation of local operators. The worry is that smaller, independent operators could be priced out of the market and the city altogether if rates continue to rocket, stifling innovation, investment and the character of the city’s night time economy.

Jonathan Walker 
Head of policy and campaigns, North East England Chamber of Commerce 

Much of the debate about business rate revaluation has been seen through a South East lens. In fact, many businesses across our region will see bills fall as a result of these changes. In the short term, this is good news and will ease the burden of business rates for many. However, this revaluation does not change the fact that a fundamental overhaul of the whole system is long overdue.

The complexity of the current system is notorious and has been a thorn in the side of business for many years. We’ll continue to campaign for a system fit for purpose that helps long-term growth in our region.

Andrew Lewis (pictured)
Managing director, Tees Valley Combined Authority 

No business will ever be pleased to pay a tax. But when they do, they will want to be sure that the money is going to a good purpose. Under new reforms, councils will soon be able to retain 100 per cent of their local business rate revenue. Your business rates will become an even more important source of finance for your local services. And when councils invest in business growth they can capture more of the benefits for re-investment locally. That won’t make paying business rates any easier but at least you can have more confidence that your local area is benefiting directly.

Graham Robb 
Senior partner, Recognition PR 

In the short term, the North East business community would see value in the Government taking action to relieve some of the pressure on the small companies facing hikes in business rates.

Looking towards the future, we need a new Tax Commission to look at what the growth of self-employment and online business mean for the tax system. The goal must be a much more level playing field which treats both high street and online businesses fairly, and adapts to the growth of the ‘platform economy’, which is leading to an increase in flexible work.

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