You cannot be serious!

Stuart Hicks, Manchester Office, Director - Dunlop Heywood

By Stuart Hicks, Managing Director

In a vague nod to Wimbledon this week my opening line for today’s piece has got to be “YOU CANNOT BE SERIOUS!”

I have just read an article about The New West End Company which represents around 600 retail and property owners in the West End planning to write to the Chancellor asking for a postponement of the 2017 business rates’ revaluation.

I’m glad I was sat down when I read the article because otherwise there would have been a rather loud thud in the office. I am not one to rant in public but REALLY!

They are apparently blaming uncertainty on the recent Brexit vote and say the proposed revaluation would hit West End businesses the hardest – YOU DON’T SAY!

Yes, business rates in the West End retail sector are predicted to be going up by anything up to 80% but there is a huge reason and that’s because the rest of the country has been effectively subsidising the West End since the last revaluation was postponed and they have enjoyed below market value business rates for several years as a result. I would be writing this all in capitals but that just gets tedious and hard to read, but you can imagine it.

Sir Peter Rogers of New West End Company, said the proposed business rate revaluation is an “unnecessary additional uncertainty” when the government should be supporting the growth of prosperous sectors of the economy – such as the West End.

I and many business leaders outside the hallowed M25 have argued for years that this revaluation is most certainly an absolute necessity so businesses outside of the south east can finally see a reduction in their rates that should have been realised years ago.

Rogers goes on to say he is “pressing” for a reconsideration of the revaluation or “at the very least, to introduce a transitional relief scheme to soften the significant impact.”

Strange, because I don’t remember many transitional relief schemes being handed out in 2015 to the rest of the country when the revaluation was postponed.

Oh and surprise, surprise, the retail operations director at Selfridges also fully supports a call for a freeze on business rates – I bet she does!

This just seems opportunism at its worst and I would hope the Chancellor give this request the due consideration it deserves – none.

Right, off to swap my expresso for a green tea to try and get the old blood pressure back down.