Letters to the editor - 26/07 - Business rates, Best of Twitter

Business rates

[Re: New postcode lending data reveals Britain’s strikingly healthy SME sector, yesterday]

SMEs may be performing better than we thought, but there is one area in which London’s smaller businesses are being unnecessarily battered. The current business rates system is cumbersome, complex and frankly bust. Worse than that, it’s driving small firms out of business or out of London. Almost one in ten respondents to a Federation of Small Businesses survey say they are paying more in rates than rent. The current system is a blunt tool for maintaining the government’s income even when everyone else’s is shrinking. It takes no account of ability to pay, or changes to economic conditions. It is based on rental values, but only adjusts its valuation assumptions every five years. Its treatment of empty property is tantamount to a tax on no income. Business rates generate a huge sum for the Treasury, but are squeezing those least able to afford it – and all this at a time when micro firms are being asked to take on more staff. A major overhaul of the system is needed now to help our small business community flourish not crumble. A level playing field is needed to ensure smaller business are not at a disadvantage relative to their larger counterparts.

Steve Warwick, London Regional Chairman, Federation of Small Businesses



To be where Osborne expected economy to be in 2015, need growth of at least 5.3 per cent this year and next.

Take care with UK GDP figures. They are based on only 44 per cent of data. Danger of revisions later.

Any growth – even if partly based on government stimulus and cheap credit – is good news.

Unlike Wonga, credit card companies continue interest accumulation after 60 days. Bigger problem for many.