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Warning over Yarmouth tax rise

PUBLISHED: 15:30 31 October 2009 | UPDATED: 15:28 03 July 2010

RETAILERS in Great Yarmouth have warned they will not be able to cope with an increase in business rates next year.

Martin Blackwell, owner of Books Inside, has been hit by a proposed 50pc rise in his rates from April 1 after the government's Valuation Office Agency (VOA), which sets the rates, reviewed the rates to bring them in line with changes in the property market.

RETAILERS in Great Yarmouth have warned they will not be able to cope with an increase in business rates next year.

Martin Blackwell, owner of Books Inside, has been hit by a proposed 50pc rise in his rates from April 1 after the government's Valuation Office Agency (VOA), which sets the rates, reviewed the rates to bring them in line with changes in the property market.

The latest valuation means the rate for the Market Gates store has increased from £14,500 per year from the last valuation in 2005 to £21,500 from next year.

Mr Blackwell, who has run the book shop for three-and-a-half years, said he would have to increase his revenue by £200 to cover the cost of the increased rates, but he could not cut staff or other costs at his store any further.

He added his shop was already being hit by competition from larger stores in the town such as ASDA and Tesco, which could offer the same books more cheaply and the effects of the recession.

“Costs can't be cut anymore. We are down to a minimum staffing level with only one full time and four part-time staff. It is going to be very difficult to cut costs further. The only viable options we have got are to cut costs or increase sales, but it is a cut throat market out there having to compete against Tesco and ASDA,” Mr Blackwell said.

He added: “This is totally unsupportable and, if reflected in other businesses, will result in the close of thousands of small businesses across the country. We only employ five people but these jobs are important to the local economy when multiplied across the town.”

Money from the rates levied across the country is pooled by the VOA and distributed to local authorities, including Yarmouth Borough Council, based on the level of services they provide.

A borough council spokesman said: “Following a revaluation, special transitional arrangements are put in place by the government to phase in significant increases or decreases in rates bills.

“These set limits on the percentage by which a rates bill can change each year. The 2005 transition scheme was designed to operate over a four year period from April 1 2005 to March 31 2009. Every ratepayer should now be paying their true rates liability for the financial year 2009/10.”


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