Are business rates on commercial premises holding back business growth in Cities such as Bradford? In our experience they have had a negative impact on the retail sector in particular.
Tenants can find in the present market that their business rates payable may often be about as high as the rental overhead. There is little that can be done to remedy this as the rateable values are based on rents paid just before the market nose-dived, in early 2008.
On-line retailing accounts for a steadily bigger proportion of overall sales, and benefits from much lower overheads. Is it little wonder that traditional retail outlets in secondary locations are suffering high vacancy rates?
The Chief Executive of Sainsburys has recently requested action from the Government to reset taxes to make it easier for traditional retail to compete with online ventures.
Should corrective action be taken? Without it, the problem will only get worse.
The Government have postponed the next business rates revaluation. This would normally have been due in 2015 and would have then been reflective of recessionary market conditions in 2010.
For a diverse City such as Bradford that has a growing number of SME’s, current Government policy is unhelpful and is discouraging new business activity.
It must be said on the positive side that Bradford’s Growth Zone offers some respite…but only for those that are taking on more staff. In addition very small retail units sometimes fall within the Small Business Relief rating band which helps too.
There are many questions to be asked. For instance, perhaps more devolved government within our Region could be the answer? Could public funds not be more appropriately invested here taking into account our circumstances? Could the Local Enterprise Partnership be part of the answer?