In October I began a petition on the Isle of Wight calling for an end to Business Rates. I am a Libertarian, so this should come as no great surprise. I am pleased to say that I have attracted a number of signatures, but I would welcome many, many more.
The high street faces a number of threats from the internet and out of town stores. Some types of businesses are more vulnerable than others, and some go bust because of organic shifts in taste, or the simple fact that some people are just bad businessmen, but the rapid decay is highly visible.
Business Rates are one of the villains in this rather sad story. Rates are administered at the start of the economic cycle, thereby penalising potential. They are applied before the shop has had a chance to make money, and deter investment and employment. The small shop that UKIP ran here on the Isle of Wight for the council elections cost us about £350 pcm ground rent and £1100 pcm in rates. Think about that second number and compare it to the annual monthly pay of a shop worker. Moreover, if the shop does well, it will pay tax via corporation tax, PAYE, and VAT, so the incentive ought to be to get the business up and running rather than putting it into the red before it sells one item.
Andrew Perloff of Panther Securities, a commercial property investment fund, estimated in a report published in August that a reform of the system, and not the whole abolition that I call for, would generate 150,000 new jobs. This would considerably ease the benefits burden as well as increase choice and competition in the retail sector, and above all generate wealth. As it is about 20 shops go bust every week.
I would love to hear from other UKIP branches and get this campaign national.