FPB joins call for business rates action in Budget

Rising business rates are the biggest concern for small firms amongst changes to the current tax system, a survey by the Forum of Private Business (FPB) has found.

The FPB polled its members on the tax changes implemented by the current Government, coming at the mid-point of the Coalition's five-year term in office.

Overall, the tax system was viewed in negative terms across a number of issues including:

  • fairness
  • simplicity
  • efficiency
  • stability; and
  • certainty.

More than a quarter (28 per cent) of business owners said the fairness of the tax system had deteriorated - compared to 17 per cent who said it had improved - while a quarter said it had become more complex. Just 14 per cent said it had simplified.

Elsewhere, 26 per cent said efficiency within the tax system had got worse while only 10 per cent said it had improved.

Business rates - 'a crippling tax'

The biggest complaint however came against business rates, with 94 per cent feeling the level of taxation on commercial properties was too high. Two thirds of this group said they said saw no real benefits from the amount spent on the tax.

Describing business rates as a 'crippling tax', the FPB is now calling for the government to introduce concessions for small businesses in its Budget on 20 March.

The forum's Chief Executive, Phil Orford, said: "While there's no doubt that businesses should pay their way for services such as bin collections and for roads to be properly maintained, many feel their hard earned cash is not being spent wisely, or certainly not for their advantage or benefit."

He added: "This research shows George Osborne really has to consider - and seriously - making a credible concession to small business in the Budget on this moot point. Businesses are clearly unhappy about the spiralling costs of NDR [non-domestic rates], and we think the tipping point is about to arrive, if it hasn't already."

"If rates keep charging upwards then businesses are going to go bust - it's as simple as that."