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Two-year business rates freeze plea

The Government has been urged to freeze business rates for the next two years amid complaints that the system is "broken".

The British Chambers of Commerce said the tax hits companies of all sizes long before they make any profit and is acting as a "drag" on business growth and investment.

In its submission to the Government's Autumn Statement, being published next month, the chambers called for an "extensive review" and complete reform of business rates by 2015.

A two year freeze would cost around £1.7 billion, but could be accommodated by using some of the Government's estimated £11.5 billion underspend from last year, said the BCC.

Businesses will pay £900 million extra next year in rates because of up-rating linked to inflation, according to the BCC, adding that UK firms faced the highest business rates bill in Europe.

Director general John Longworth said: "There is no question that the business rate system is broken.

"Firms across the UK have been crying out for relief from these burdensome taxes for years, but so far their pleas have been ignored.

"It is cynical to freeze council tax while allowing the pain caused by business rates to continue, and goes against pro-business pledges made by the Government."

Local government minister Brandon Lewis said: "This Government is supporting business and entrepreneurs.

"Corporation tax is set to become the lowest in the G20, a new employment allowance will mean 450, 000 small businesses no longer have to pay national insurance contributions and because all business rates remain linked to inflation there has been no real terms increase in bills for over 20 years.

"We have doubled small business rate relief for the past three years, helping an estimated half a million small firms, who are at the heart of our national economy, meaning 300,000 had no rate bill to pay at all. Latest figures show that small business received a total of £900 million last year."


From Belfast Telegraph