A London estate agent has demanded Sadiq Khan offers firms a Crossrail levy holiday as the business rates row continues

 
Rebecca Smith
Sadiq Khan Presents London Labour's Campaign Adverts Ahead Mayoral Vote
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Sadiq Khan's comments on business rate rises in the capital clearly haven't gone down well with some...

The mayor said yesterday he was "shocked" by business rate rises set to hit the capital - but a boss at estate agent and consultancy Colliers International has said the mayor can take action himself, and called on Khan to do more.

John Webber, head of rating at Colliers, said Khan could offer a 12-month holiday on the Crossrail levy to London businesses expecting hefty business rates hikes.

Read more: In full: The letter Sadiq Khan sent to Philip Hammond on business rates

Webber said:

We have heard much rhetoric from City Hall about business rates crippling London business and particularly its thriving retail sector.

However, the mayor of London does have the ability to ease the pain by offering a 12-month Crossrail levy holiday from April 2017.

Hard-pressed London firms bracing themselves for once-in-a-generation rates hikes would directly benefit from 12 months’ relief from this element of business rates.

Currently there are around 47,000 London firms with a rateable value over £55,000 and they must pay a four per cent Crossrail levy on top of, and collected as part of, their business rates bill.

This levy, established by Khan's predecessor Boris Johnson, brings in around £263m per year towards the huge infrastructure project for the capital. But with new business rates levels announced by the government to come into effect from April, a further 9,800 London firms will be caught by the Crossrail levy as their rateable values rise.

Read more: Here's how much house prices have risen on the Elizabeth Line

That additional income will amount to £72m per year, or £360m over the life of this five-year business rates period. Unchanged over the same five-year period, this Crossrail levy will bring in £1.6bn from firms in the capital.

Colliers has written to the mayor, saying he has the power to offer "much-needed respite" to businesses.

Rajesh Agrawal, deputy mayor for business, said: “The vast majority of business properties are exempt from paying the business rate supplement, which is necessary to repay what the Greater London Authority is borrowing to finance Crossrail – a major infrastructure scheme that will bring jobs and growth to the capital.

"The mayor is extremely concerned about the rise in business rates and impact this will have on London’s businesses, including potentially being forced to close as a result," Agrawal added.

"He is urging the chancellor to introduce measures to soften the immediate impact and give businesses a chance to plan ahead. He also believes London needs greater control over business rates, including being able to set the tax rate in the capital."

Read more: Culture shock: How London's theatres will be squeezed by business rate hike

Khan said he has written to chancellor Philip Hammond to raise his concerns over the planned changes to business rates. His letter was signed by business groups including the London Chamber of Commerce, the Federation of Small Businesses and the New West End Company.

London will be handed a £900m business rate hike when the revaluation comes into effect, the mayor has said.

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