Sidmouth businesses needed to join call for rates review

PUBLISHED: 07:31 19 November 2018 | UPDATED: 12:03 19 November 2018

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The volume of letters from Sidmouth businesses is what will help bring about a review of unfair business rates.

Those are the words of one campaigner who is calling for a Royal Commission, to look into how the country can raise £27billion in tax, by spreading the bill more fairly.

Alistair Handyside from the South West Tourism Alliance spoke at the latest Sidmouth Chamber of Commerce meeting, telling members a business rates campaign has been launched.

“We just want to provide data so we can fight this,” he added.

Alistair said the hospitality sector paid the highest business rates in the country - around £2.7billion, equating to about 10 per cent of the total rates, even though it only makes up around three per cent of all the businesses.

Alistair said: “Business rates need to be fair for all, which means we need to bring the online businesses in - they need to pay their fair share.

“Businesses on the High street are having to compete with online businesses that don’t charge VAT and don’t pay business rates, but they buy their products from the same suppliers at the same prices.

“We really do need to level that playing field.

“The system has been left behind by the digital economy which is going away so we need to embraced it and brought into the taxation system.”

Alistair said in the latest budget report businesses had been given a discount for the next two years.

He added: “But, it is just for the next two and then you are back at losing all the deals this Government has done to try and stick plasters over the business rates issue.

“We are calling for a Royal Commission into business rates and that takes it away from the politicians to find a solution.

“They will be told they still need to raise £27billion in tax but it needs to be raised by the wider business economy. We have to get that fair review.”

Alistair said a website will be launched, which will include example letters and information of where and who to write to. There will be frequently asked questions and fact sheets.

“The only way to get change is with evidence. You can’t just say it’s wrong - nothing will happen. You have to have evidence. It is the volume of letters from you that make the change, this has been made very clear. The reason you got the little discount you did in the budget was because of the volume of letters from constituents - that makes all the difference and is my plea.”

The new website will go live in the next ten days. Visit swtourismalliance.org.uk for more information on the South West Tourism Alliance.

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