Islington Council slams lack of help for businesses in Philip Hammond’s budget

Stacey Thomas from The Lexington pub, Hak Huseyin, David Twydell, Cllr Asima Shaikh and Susan Croppe

Stacey Thomas from The Lexington pub, Hak Huseyin, David Twydell, Cllr Asima Shaikh and Susan Cropper, Loop Knitting. - Credit: Archant

Islington Council has hit out at Philip Hammond’s budget and its lack of help for businesses about to be hit by huge rates increases.

Traders in Islington face the third highest hikes in the country, with rateable values going up by an average of 45 per cent. That means they will be paying anywhere between £10,000 and £100,000 more, effectively forcing them to close or leave the borough.

Last week business leaders from the borough marched on Downing Street to hand in a petition signed by more than 13,600 people opposing the rise.

And today the chancellor announced the government will provide £435million to support those affected, meaning small firms about to lose their rate relief will pay no more than £50 a month more.

Councils across the country will also share £300m to help them support specific traders – but to put that in perspective, Islington traders alone are facing a combined increase of £100m.

Pubs with a rateable value of up to £100,000 will also now get a £1,000 discount. But it’s all crumbs from the table, as far as Islington’s economy boss Cllr Asima Shaikh is concerned.

She said: “Small businesses in Islington face massive central government increases in business rates bills from April and today’s announcements by the chancellor will do little to ease the pain.

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“We have supported our small businesses by working with the Chamber of Commerce and Angel BID to organise a petition against the business rates increases – that has been signed by more than 13,600 local people.

“The cap on increases for small businesses that will lose rates relief announced today is welcome, but this is for a limited time only.

“The total business rates bill for Islington’s businesses will increase by almost £100m from April, so the extra money for discretionary relief will make very little difference.

“Islington Council will not receive any extra funding from the increase in business rates bills. We will continue to push the government to bring forward genuine support for local businesses and will offer support to those affected by the government’s increase in business rates bills.”

Cllr Shaik’s thoughts were echoed by Christine Lovett, CEO of the Angel Business Improvement District.

She said: “These changes just aren’t good enough. Most of our businesses whose livelihoods are threatened, won’t benefit.

“It takes a variety of businesses to make up a whole high street and this won’t help the small independents - those who bring an interesting flavour which attracts visitors, and of course the biggest employers of local people.

“We have worked closely with Islington Council and the Chamber of Commerce to fight this and we’re not giving up.”