Planned business rates rise could ‘damage’ Newham economy

Sir Robin Wales says Newham Council will have to make �70 million more savings from its budgets by 2

Sir Robin Wales says Newham Council will have to make �70 million more savings from its budgets by 2020. - Credit: Newham Council

The Mayor of Newham, Sir Robin Wales, has said a proposed rise in business rates could “jeopardise” the borough’s economic success.

The rates, which are based partly on property values, are forecast to rise by up to £9.1billion in London – and £160million in Newham alone – by tax specialists CVS.

Sir Robin said that because of a “tremendous” increase in property prices, some of the borough’s 7,926 firms could see their rates “more than doubled” from April next year.

“At a time when the country is facing economic uncertainty, the government must do more to support businesses to ensure they do not jeopardise the growth of local communities and the creation of jobs,” he said.

“Otherwise their proposals will damage the economic success that we are fighting so hard to achieve.”

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Also opposed to the rise is East Ham MP Stephen Timms, who signed a letter at the beginning of the month pleading with Chancellor Philip Hammond to reconsider.

The letter said a review should “explore the decoupling of London” from the national rates system.

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But Lloyd Johnson, chairman of the Newham Chamber of Commerce, said he doesn’t fear for the borough.

“Newham is so vibrant at the minute,” he said.

“One thing that always comes through is how passionate people here are about their businesses.”

He added, however, that a review of the proposed increase would be “a benefit” and warned that any major increase would affect prices.

“It will put added pressure on any business and with the new minimum wage it’s putting the squeeze on not just profits but capital spend, too.”

He added: “In some cases the new costs will be passed to the consumer.”

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