Victory in rates campaign for Dearne businesses

Caroline Walker, of Walker's Diner, Station Street, Swinton holds a cup of coffee which is on offer. Picture: Andrew Roe

Caroline Walker, of Walker's Diner, Station Street, Swinton holds a cup of coffee which is on offer. Picture: Andrew Roe

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The South Yorkshire Times has scored a huge victory in our fight to save the high street after the chancellor announced a review of crippling business rates in his autumn statement.

The announcement will spark a root and branch review starting ‘imminently’, which a treasury spokesman said is believed to be the first of its kind since 1988.

Under the ‘Shop Local‘ banner, the Times, and hundreds of Johnston Press sister titles nationwide, had campaigned for urgent reform and a freeze in rates while it was conducted. More than 5,000 people signed our petition.

In addition to the rates review, chancellor George Osborne announced an increase in the discount small retailers can claim, from £1,000 to £1,500. He also revealed a 100 per cent business rates relief for the smallest properties would last for another year until March 2016. While there will be no freeze on business rates, the chancellor said there will be a two per cent cap on any increases.

The move was welcomed by Dearne businesses this week.

Mum-of-two Caroline Walker, 41, who runs Walker’s Diner in Swinton, said: “Without my small business relief I would be struggling.

“I’m glad they are looking at the issue. They should freeze the rates for years to come. If they put them up I would have to put prices up, and then I would probably lose customers.”

Ashley Highfield, the chief executive of Johnston Press, said: “Local businesses drive the local economy and when that happens communities then thrive.”

We urged the Government to think again about an unfair tax which has been increased by nearly £700 million in the past three years, leaving traders with the highest property tax bills in Europe.

Support our campaign and sign our online petition at: https://www.change.org/p/uk-government-launch-an-immediate-review-of-the-business-rates-system-in-england-freezing-rates-in-the-interim