Petts Wood Business Association News – March 2017

Petts Wood Business Association

Headline News

As you have probably seen in the press, from April many businesses in the South-East are facing a huge rise in business rates. In Wednesday’s budget the Chancellor announced some measures to try and soften the blow for those businesses hardest hit, no doubt due to the negative publicity and the numerous petitions opposing the increases. The rise is due to a revaluation of the rateable value of business premises – this usually happens every five years but was last done in 2010 (because there was a General Election in 2015 the Government delayed the revaluation by 2 years). This means that the increase for Petts Wood businesses is particularly high.

The average increase in rateable value for businesses in Queensway is around 17%, but cross the railway and the average increase is 35%. Compare this to the last revaluation back in 2010 when the average increase for Queensway was just 1%, Station Square was 0.5% and some businesses in Petts Wood Road/Bluston Parade saw their rateable value reduced.

On top of the increase in rateable value, the various reliefs available to small businesses are also changing which means that businesses won’t benefit from some of the discounts that they do currently.

These changes are going to be felt particularly hard by our local, independent businesses rather than chains that have a presence across the country. This is because, by law, the revaluation does not raise any additional revenue for the Government so chains will see rates rise in one area but reduce in another. High Street expert, Mary Portas, has predicted that the rise in business rate in prosperous areas, like Petts Wood, will result in the replacement of independent businesses with chain cafes and restaurants. The other scenario is that it could result in more charity shops (as they’re entitled to 80% relief on their rates) or empty premises.

As mentioned earlier, Wednesday’s Budget did take steps to soften the blow by announcing that no business losing small business rate relief (SBR) will see their bill rise by more than £50.00 per month. That doesn’t really help many of the premises in Petts Wood who were just above the threshold to qualify for SBR in the first place.

Petts Wood Business Association wrote to Jo Johnson MP back in October 2015 to express our disapproval at the proposed increases, stating that we felt it was a disproportionate increase in light of the current business climate affecting local High Streets, especially the threat posed by online businesses. In January, Jo Johnson wrote back enclosing a letter from Marcus Jones MP, Minister for Local Government explaining the Government’s position. This letter explained that the Government was committed to backing small and medium size enterprises and that nearly three quarters of businesses will see no change or a fall in their bills next year – unfortunately no businesses in Petts Wood will be in that 75%.

So why does this matter to residents of Petts Wood – I think it goes without saying that one of Petts Wood’s attractions is the variety of local, independent businesses. It would be a real shame if these businesses were replaced by chains. Please support your local businesses – Petts Wood wouldn’t be the same without them.

If you feel strongly enough about these increases then please consider signing this petition:
https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/175433

Other News
PWBA has taken on responsibility for organising the Petts Wood May Fayre after it became apparent that it was on the verge of being cancelled due to lack of volunteers and we simply couldn’t let that happen. Further information about this year’s event is detailed below.

If you own or run a local business and are interested in joining PWBA then please get in touch.

Our next meeting is the AGM:

Thursday 4th May – 7.00pm – Annual General Meeting
The Poppy Lounge, Royal British Legion, Queensway

New/lapsed members are welcome to attend either meeting but only paid up members will have the right to vote at the AGM. For further information please email chairman@pwba.biz.

For all the latest information go to our website www.lovepettswood.co.uk or follow us on social media – Facebook.com/pettswoodbusinessassociation and Twitter @PettsWoodBA

Paula Ferguson
Acting Chair, Petts Wood Business Association