‘It will cripple us’ – Islington businesses face third highest rate rise in country

Hak Huseyin is the vice chair of the Islington Chamber of Commerce

Hak Huseyin is the vice chair of the Islington Chamber of Commerce - Credit: Archant

Independent businesses will be “crippled” by the government’s plans to raise business rates in Islington by 45 per cent, the Chamber of Commerce has said.

The rise, which the Gazette can reveal is the third highest in the country behind Hackney and West Somerset, comes as part of the government’s “reassessment” of rateable values, which determine how much traders pay in rates.

Hak Huseyin, vice chair of the Islington chamber and owner of Absolute Prints in Archway, is leading a campaign to fight the plans.

“If it’s anywhere near 45 per cent it’s absolutely disgusting,” he said. “Nags Head Market, Finsbury Park and Archway will be the worst hit, especially with the developments in Archway – everyone is looking at the area now.

“But I don’t care if you’re an independent or a national company, it’s 45 per cent. My rent is £11,000 so I’ve got to find another £5,000. Will I have to lose staff or put the prices up?

“Most businesses are just about keeping their head above the water as it is. It’s as if the government is saying we don’t care if you are open or not.

“They seem to miss that not only do these businesses employ local people but they are part of the community. In my shop you come in and find out what’s going on, you don’t get that in Tesco or Sainsbury’s.

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“We are a small shop that employs nine people. Seven of them are local. The government give the message ‘we are here to help’ but talk is cheap and their actions are not following through.

Hak will be speaking to business owners and chambers of commerce elsewhere to take his campaign national before the rise in April.

“We have six months to have an impact,” he said. “How much more can we take? We’re already fighting people online who don’t pay rates. We don’t do zero hour contracts, we do things the right way but get kicked in the teeth again and again.

“The message has to reach the Prime Minister. She’s promising the earth but she has to know what’s going on.

“Coupled with Brexit this is affecting everyone of us.”

Islington Council is offering advice workshops to businesses throughout this month and next.

Economy boss Cllr Asima Shaikh said: “The new rateable values could mean a big increase in rates for many Islington businesses.

“We are concerned this would have an impact on many local companies. Over the next few months we will offer advice about how companies can check their rateable value is correct, and how they can manage business rates payments.

“We will also join London-wide efforts to encourage national government to make sure business rates are set fairly for small businesses in our city.”