Business rates hitting coalition pilot towns

Elizabeth Fournier
REGIONAL towns earmarked by the government to lead UK high streets out of their slump are being hit hardest by the coalition’s decision to delay the revaluation of business rates, according to industry bosses.

While rental values in Stockport, Wolverhampton and Bedford – which all received funding under the so-called Portas Pilot scheme – have plummeted, retailers are still paying business rates linked to valuations calculated in 2008, at the height of the property boom.

The mismatch has left some shopowners paying more in taxes than they do in rent, with little respite likely soon after the government pushed back the revaluation of business rates from 2015 to 2017.

The British Council of Shopping Centres, which compiled the figures, said the delay could “serve as a nail in the coffin for a raft of retailers”.

Rental values in Stockport have fallen 34.3 per cent since December 2007, while rents in Wolverhampton and Bedford have dropped by 31.4 per cent and 15.2 per cent respectively.

But the data shows better news for central London shopkeepers, who are still paying the 2008 rates despite rental prices rising steadily across the capital – by as much as 12.6 per cent in Mayfair and 11.5 per cent in Soho and Oxford Street South.