Business rates reform could deter small traders in Budleigh


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Small business owners could be deterred from opening in Budleigh Salterton, if changes to business rates are given the green light.

The Government has launched a consultation into proposals to reform the process for appealing against business rates.

Currently, any business owner can appeal against a rates valuation, but under the new proposal, traders will have to go through a ‘check, challenge, appeal’ process in order to have their business rates altered.

This will mean business owners will have the relevant facts of their case checked and will need to enter a formal challenge before an appeal can be heard.

Budleigh in Business chairman Helen Warren said this system could act as a deterrent to small businesses setting up in the town.

She said: “The Government has proposed significant changes to the appeals system for non-domestic rates.

“If brought in, they are going to significantly skew proceedings against ratepayers, which may act as a deterrent, particularly to smaller businesses, to challenge excessive assessments.”

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Chamber of commerce chairman Christine Bentley thinks the appeal system is in need of change.

She said: “Shops, offices and other businesses in predominantly shopping areas like Fore Street pay far more per square metre than out-of-town stores and supermarkets, which are classed as warehouses, and garden centres, which are classed as ‘agricultural’.

“The chamber welcomes the news that the Government is looking into the unfairness of the whole system.

“It does require major changes and has been shelved by governments previously because of the enormity of the task.

“However, information is not yet available, though rumours have begun about the appeal system in particular.

“If a complete overhaul of the system means that shopping areas like the one most of our members occupy will be more fairly assessed, in comparison to the other types of business I have mentioned, I would welcome it - but we need more information before the changes take place in 2017.”

A consultation on the plans is open until January 4. To respond, people can email or go to