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Thousands sign business rates petition delivered to Treasury

Islington business owners and Cllr Asima Shaikh (second from right) outside HMT

Islington business owners and Cllr Asima Shaikh (second from right) outside HMT

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A 12,658-strong petition – calling on the government to freeze plans to dramatically raise Islington businesses rates by 45 per cent, the third highest rise in England – has been delivered to the Treasury today by a local councillor and business representatives. 
The petition, which was launched by the Islington Chamber of Commerce and Angel Business Improvement District and supported by Islington Council, was handed to officials ahead of next week’s budget announcement by the Chancellor, Philip Hammond MP.
Signatories asked the government to freeze the implementation of the business rates valuation until after Britain leaves the EU. 
They urged the Treasury to extend ‘transitional reliefs’ for affected businesses – meaning bills would increase at a lower rate, over a greater time-span, and so help small and medium sized companies cope with the effect of a significant rise.
Delivering the petition to the Treasury, Islington Council’s executive member for economic development, Cllr Asima Shaikh, said: “The scale of this rise in business rateable values could have a destructive effect on our high streets. 
“A big increase could force small and medium businesses to close or move – damaging the diverse and independent nature of our business communities.  
“We urge the Treasury to stop these plans and support our shops and services in these turbulent times ahead.” 
She was accompanied by Hak Huseyin, Co-Vice Chair of the Islington Chamber of Commerce, as well as several local business owners.  
Hak Huseyin said: “I strongly believe that this is another blow for business. Who can justify these rises in any other part of business? 
“It’s unheard off and simply unmanageable. We understand that rises happen; we can accept an increase in-line with inflation, but to inflate the rates is unacceptable.
“Empty shops are not good for employment, not good for the community, and unwelcome to the high street. 
“Proceeding with the proposed rises would have a devastating impact on our high streets.”
Chief Executive of Angel’s Business Improvement District, Christine Lovett, said: "Our high streets are the lifeblood of our communities; they are real places where people gather, eat, drink, socialise and escape isolation; they are also places where fledgling businesses cut their teeth and grow. 
“These small businesses are the biggest employers of local people. 
“As it is, our vibrant high streets are threatened by online shopping, high rents, the uncertainty of Brexit, and the government's huge business rate rises could be the final straw for our smaller independents which will close."
The petition requested the government assist small companies by increasing the threshold for Small Business Rate Relief in inner London, with national Government funding the higher relief.  
Currently, companies can apply for the relief scheme in full if the rateable value of their property is less than £12,000 and at a tapered rate if it is between £12,000 and £15,000. The petition calls for the lower threshold of £12,000 to be increased.

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Eugene Grant
Senior Media Officer
0207 527 2530

Notes to editors

By 2020, Islington Council will have seen its central government funding cut by 70 per cent in a decade and has no control over the rateable values of business premises in the borough. The council’s funding will not increase as a result of local businesses paying more in business rates.