Campaign to help struggling businesses

LEADERS in a Suffolk district are today launching a counter attack on behalf its beleaguered businesses.

LEADERS in a Suffolk district are today launching a counter attack on behalf its beleaguered businesses.

Babergh District Council has decided to write to the government calling for it to cut business rates in the high street.

However, a business supremo in Hadleigh said their energy could be better spent making small businesses aware of the rate relief that is available to them.

Councillors voted to pressure the government at Tuesday's stewardship committee - on the day it was announced that one measure of inflation had fallen to zero for the first time in 49 years.

The following day, Labour was accused of “ruinous” policies by the Tories after failing to prevent a record five per cent jump in business rates next month just as the British economy sinks deeper into recession.

The move by Babergh District Council was mooted by Suffolk County and Babergh District councillor David Grutchfield in a bid to stop an increasing number of empty shops chequering the high street.

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He said: “We will ask government to review and reduce the rates because if a business is paying �4,000 before they have earned a penny piece, it can mean the difference between whether they are viable or not.

“There are a lot of shops closing in the district and I am very concerned.”

But James Walter, a consultant for chartered accountants Walter Wright and treasurer of the Hadleigh Chamber of Commerce, said businesses could help themselves more.

He said: “Up to 50 per cent of all businesses are not claiming the small business rate relief to which they are entitled.”

Figures released on Tuesday showed that the rate of Retail Prices Index (RPI), which includes mortgage interest repayments, fell to 0pc in February from 0.1pc in January - the lowest reading since March 1960.

In England, small businesses are generally entitled to rate relief if the rateable value of their premises is less than �15,000. For more information go to

Is your business struggling? What do you think should be done? Write to Your Letters, The Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send us an e-mail to