Belfast Telegraph

Sajid Javid 'acutely aware of anger' over business rates rise

Communities Secretary Sajid Javid is "acutely aware" of the anger felt by small firms facing hikes to their bills, the head of business rates specialist firm CVS said after talks with the Cabinet minister.

The Government is expected to take action to mitigate the impact of the revaluation in next week's Budget, and CVS chief Mark Rigby said Mr Javid was in "listening mode".

Ministers have insisted that the revaluation - the first since 2010 - will mean three-quarters of firms will see their rates stay the same or decrease.

But Mr Javid and Chancellor Philip Hammond have come under pressure to act to help businesses facing large rises because they are in areas where rental values have increased dramatically since 2010.

They have also been urged to address a situation which critics claim favours large retailers and online firms over high street shops.

CVS held talks with Mr Javid on Wednesday and the firm is understood to have put forward proposals for a package worth up to £150 million to help small firms who will be hardest hit by the revaluation from April.

In his first comments since the meeting, Mr Rigby said: " The Secretary of State was clearly in listening mode and it was evident to me that he was acutely aware of the potential impact that the revaluation will bring to some communities and the anger felt by small businesses, particularly the retail and leisure sectors.

"He was clear in his determination to find a meaningful, targeted solution to ease the financial burden for those most in need ahead of the April tax changes."

At Prime Minister's Questions on Wednesday, Theresa May indicated that Mr Hammond would address the situation in the Budget.

She said Mr Hammond and Mr Javid had been asked " to make sure that the support that is provided is appropriate and is in place for the hardest cases", adding she "would expect ... the Chancellor to say more about this next week in the Budget".

For firms facing an increase the Government has already put in place a system of transitional relief, worth £3.6 billion in total, to phase in the rises over five years.

Extra potential mitigation measures could include the introduction of a package similar to the retail relief scheme which was worth £1,500 to firms when it ended in April last year, and t he threshold for tapered relief could also be raised.

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