Tories slam Ipswich ports tax hike

A FIVE YEAR retrospective tax on Britain's ports is set to cost businesses in Ipswich more than �1million.Tory shadow local government minister Bob Neill visited the Port of Ipswich today as part of the Conservatives' campaign calling on the Government to scrap the so-called “ports tax” ahead of the budget on April 22.

Graham Dines

A FIVE YEAR retrospective tax on Britain's ports is set to cost businesses in Ipswich more than �1million.

Tory shadow local government minister Bob Neill visited the Port of Ipswich today as part of the Conservatives' campaign calling on the Government to scrap the so-called “ports tax” ahead of the budget on April 22.

As a result of decisions made when Gordon Brown was Chancellor, the Government has changed the way that business rates are calculated for ports - taxing individual firms rather than port operators. Rather than introducing the new system at the 2010 rates revaluation, local ports firms are to be hit with unexpected bills backdated to 2005.

It is feared that many shipping companies may similarly switch their business to Zeebrugge or Rotterdam, finishing journeys by road or rail, and bypass British ports as a result of the new taxes.

Mr Neill said: “Local firms are already struggling to make ends meet thanks to the recession. These unfair, retrospective taxes could be the last straw.”

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He accused ministers of having their heads in the sand and failed to realise “that their inept policies are threatening perfectly viable businesses up and down the country.”

The cross-party Treasury Select Committee recently reported: “We recommend that, in recognition of the fact that the Valuation Office Agency is to blame for the situation faced by the port firms, the Government takes steps to mitigate further the difficult position faced by port businesses.

“Consideration should be given to the proposal to maintain the rateable values of premises in statutory docks and harbours at the levels published in the April 2005 rating lists until the new ratings list is published in April 2010.”

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