Business rate relief scheme “not enough”

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Shops in Upper Street, Islington. Photo: Ewan Munro.

Funds to help struggling businesses cope with rate rises have been criticised by the local business association as “too little and too late”.

The scheme will share £8.59m from a £300m national pot among small local firms and pubs to help alleviate the impact of recent hikes in business rates throughout the borough. However, according to the Islington Council executive, the rate relief will only cover around three per cent of the new costs for most businesses.

Mark Turner, a programme manager at Angel.London, a Business Improvement District, said: “£8.59m over four years will have very little impact on the rates burden for businesses.

“Moreover, we have concerns about the impact of the full rates bill released in 2019/20 when the transitional relief scheme is phased out”.

Businesses are expecting to pay anywhere from £10,000 to £100,000 extra annually as a result of the government business rate rise.

This is of particular concern for small independent businesses along Camden Passage, where soaring rent prices and rate increases of up to 30 per cent on average have left many businesses struggling to stay open.

The relief fund was made as a concession by the government earlier this year after the Islington Chamber of Commerce challenged the rise in rates with a 14,250 signature-strong petition.

Turner added: “While we appreciate that Islington [Council] is doing its best to make things better for small businesses, the amounts under discussion are really just a drop in the ocean for businesses impacted by the latest rates increases”.