Leaders appeal for business rate relief

SUFFOLK'S council leaders are backing the Evening Star's Fightback campaign - writing to Chancellor Alistair Darling urging him to lift the tax burden on small and medium sized business.

Graham Dines

SUFFOLK'S council leaders are backing the Evening Star's Fightback campaign - writing to Chancellor Alistair Darling urging him to lift the tax burden on small and medium sized business.

In the letter they detail all the work they have done “to provide positive support and advice to everyone affected by the current difficult economic climate.”

They also ask for the Chancellor's support on the level of business rates - an issue they feel “is having a huge impact on small businesses in Suffolk.”

“Here in Suffolk, we are doing our best to support businesses and individuals during this difficult financial crisis,” the letter reads. “We have introduced earlier payment of our invoices and the provision of extra funds and resources to the Citizen Advice Bureaux and our local credit union.

“In December last year, we held an economic summit which brought together local businesses, community and voluntary organisations to discuss what we should do collectively to support the people of Suffolk. This was a hugely successful event with a number of real actions agreed that are now being worked up and implemented.

Most Read

“We are all doing what we can here in Suffolk by setting low council tax increases - something we know will have a positive impact on people's lives.”

The council leaders say they are in close touch with their local communities to ensure they have a clear understanding of what support people really need.

“One area that arises time and time again is the level of business rates which are rising by 5% from this month, and in some cases, more as the transitional rate relief falls,” they said.

The leaders urge greater relief for small businesses, backing the proposal for automatic relief and a better promotion of the scheme, and call for the reinstatement of the empty property relief scheme, but without the cost being passed back to councils.

“These two measures alone would help small businesses enormously,” they claim. “We want to provide positive support and advice to everyone affected by the current difficult economic climate.

“We hope you will see the positive impact that these suggested measures could have on our local economy and we ask that you lobby for these to be put in place as soon as possible.”

The letter is signed by county council leader Jeremy Pembroke and the heads of Ipswich, Suffolk Coastal, Mid Suffolk, Babergh, Forest Heath, St Edmundsbury and Waveney district councils.

Are fighting the credit crunch? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.