LONDON: Plans to help nearly 100,000 small businesses due to be hit by changes to rates next month are being considered by Communities Secretary Sajid Javid. Out of those, some 25,000 firms face a “cliff edge” under the new revaluation of business rates, according to ratings agency CVS. It presented a number of proposals to Mr Javid during a meeting. The Treasury is trying to come up with some additional help for small firms after an outcry from businesses. Ministers have said that the revaluation – the first since 2010 – will mean three-quarters of firms will see their rates stay the same or decrease. But Mr Javid and Chancellor Philip Hammond have come under pressure to act to help businesses facing large rises in areas where rental values have increased dramatically. Critics claim the situation favours large retailers and online firms over high street shops. CVS held talks with Mr Javid, and the firm put forward proposals for a package worth up to £150m. The government is expected to take action to mitigate the impact of the revaluation in next week’s Budget.
CVS chief Mark Rigby said: “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.” Theresa May indicated at Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday that Mr Hammond would address the situation in the Budget. She said Mr Hammond and Mr Javid had been asked “to make sure that the support that is provided is appropriate and is in place for the hardest cases”, adding she “would expect… the Chancellor to say more about this next week in the Budget”. The government has already put in place a system of transitional relief, worth £3.6bn, to phase in the rises over five years. Extra potential mitigation measures could include the introduction of a package similar to the retail relief scheme which was worth £1,500 to firms when it ended in April last year, and the threshold for tapered relief could also be raised.