Letter: Reform business rates entrepreneurs tell chancellor ahead of Spring Budget

Lynsey Barber
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Startups will be hit by business rate hikes (Source: Getty)

Entrepreneurs, startup founders and tech leaders have penned an open letter to chancellor Philip Hammond ahead of the Spring Budget calling for business rates reform.

Dear chancellor,

In recent years London has established itself as Europe’s top destination for technology startups. Our capital has gone above and beyond to welcome and nurture some of the world’s most innovative digital companies, with great success.

More than 40,000 technology businesses are already headquartered in Inner London, employing more than 250,000 people. Oxford Economics has forecast that London’s digital industries will generate an additional 46,000 jobs and £12billion of economic value.

However, we are sure you are acutely aware that our leading position and current momentum are under threat. Rival technology hubs such as Amsterdam, Berlin and Paris are looking to capitalise on Brexit uncertainty by aggressively marketing to British startups. A significant rise in business rates will only strengthen their hands.

London’s startup community have had to contend with spiralling property values and increasing commercial rents for some time. These latest proposed changes to business rates will force many to shoulder additional costs, or even consider relocation, at a time when it has never been more important for us to promote our city’s global reputation as a welcoming, supportive place to start and grow a business.

We welcome any short term relief you are able to provide to help those who would be worst affected by higher rates. However, we believe that the time has come for a full scale review of the business rates regime. This should start with an open dialogue with industry to explore how the system can better reflect our changing economy.

As members of London’s technology community, we urge you to consider specific measures that will ease the rates burden for early stage companies. For example, a three year exemption for new businesses would allow startups to develop intellectual property, establish contacts within our thriving technology ecosystem and give them the best chance of generating significant value for the economy, including the public finances.

The London technology community is eager to work with the Government to develop a more progressive approach to business rates so that London can continue to nurture innovative entrepreneurism and driving growth for the next generation of British technology companies.

Respectfully yours,

James Layfield, founder, Central Working

Russ Shaw, founder, Tech London Advocates

Gerard Grech, chief executive, Tech City UK

Max Kelly, chief executive, Techstars

Rob Liddiard, co-founder and chief executive, Yapster

Peter Wake, founder, StorIQ

Becca Williams, founder, Antidote communications

Danni Leith, founder, Leith Furniture

Al Maxwell, founder, String

Pajani Singah, director, Montague Media and Music for London

Edo Cannarsa, founder and managing director, EspressGo

​Renaud Million, chief executive Spikii

Iggy Hammick, founder, Dark Blue

Will Carmichael, chief executive, RoosterMoney

Nadav Raviv, founder, Link Big

James Dyer, founder, Swish

Charlie Bevan, founder, Pebble Studio

Anthony Impey, chief executive, Optmity

Mary-Clare Gribbon, founder, Gribbonberry

Aimen Chouchane, director, Challenger

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