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Business rates issues raised by independent retailer

Date Added: 24/05/2013  

An independent retailer has stated business rates are not a fair way to take money from companies, as there is no difference between the amounts charged despite the size of a firm.

Natalie Batchelor, who opened Bishop's Stortford children's store Mummy Market earlier this year, thinks it is unfair she is made to pay the same business rates as massive chains such as nearby Pizza Express.

Speaking to the Herts and Essex Observer, she noted high rates are among the reasons why so many businesses are having to close down and go into liquidation.

Ms Batchelor cited the case of tack shop Manefaire next door, which recently  confirmed it is to close within weeks. Owner Karen Matthews blamed high rates and rent, as well as low footfall and a lack of free parking, for the failure of her 19-month-old business.

The Mummy Market owner said independent retailers less than five years old - such as herself - ought to be entitled to help while they establish themselves. "It's not just about smaller retailers as it will benefit the larger stores too by encouraging more people into the town. It makes sense for the town to come together as a whole to support it," she added.

Ms Batchelor also pointed out that if the local council wants to preserve the reputation of Bishop's Stortford as a market town with lots of "little shops and boutiques" then it will have to take action to support independent retailers.

Head of policy for the Forum of Private Business Alex Jackman recently called for the government to address the issue of business rates, as he stated this is stifling growth in the UK and damaging the economic recovery as a result.

Although the UK recorded growth of 0.3 per cent in the first quarter of the year - and this has been left unrevised by the Office for National Statistics this week - the recovery remains slow.

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Posted by Julie Cutts

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