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High Business Rates 'Crippling' Town Centre

Wednesday October 16 2013




HIGH business rates are 'crippling' the town centre, according to one store owner.

Vivien Priestley plans to move when her lease is up because of the high rates. She opened her independent baby boutique on Eldon Street at the bottom of the Arcade in 2010, after trading on Barnsley's semi-open market and then in the Alhambra.

She says the boutique, which employs three staff and specialises in baby and children's clothes, is thriving and draws people from Sheffield, Leeds and Wakefield.

Business rates are taxes to help pay for local services and are charged on most non-domestic properties such as shops, offices and pubs.

Vivien said: "The rates are extremely high because they're based on the value of the property five years ago when things were very different to what they are now.

"Properties are probably worth half what they were, yet the rates are still high.

"I'm going to be moving to a premises further up the Arcade because the rates for the building are cheaper. If I wasn't moving I would have had to close probably.

"It makes a big difference moving because it means I can put more back into the business.

"The government needs to realise that instead of talking, which is cheap, they need to act, particularly in smaller towns like this because these high rates are closing the town down."

She said it's smaller, independent business that are holding town centre trade together.

A spokesman for Barnsley Council said it doesn't set property valuations or business rates.

He said the rates paid on business properties depends on its 'rateable value' which is calculated by the Valuation Office Agency (VOA).

A spokesman for the Valuation Office Agency said a review into business rates was due to take place in 2015 but this has been postponed until 2017.

He said if anyone disagrees with their valuation they can appeal to the VOA and ask them to correct the details thought to be wrong or appeal rates.

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22 Showing 22 comments

Reply Posted by Richard on Wednesday October 16 2013 at 11:45
Barnsley Council is Labour isn't it? Taking huge sums and spending it on what exactly? It's not spent on the roads to help bring people to spend money in the Barnsley shops....that's just one problem! So what are they spending it on? Rusty combs and councillor salaries and expenses. Well done Labour, bravo!

Reply Posted by Sarah on Wednesday October 16 2013 at 11:56
Did you read the article at all? It clearly states Barnsley Council doesn't set property valuations or business rates, which is calculated by the VOA. I agree about the Rusty comb and councillor salaries and expenses but for once it isn't entirely their incompetence! Although perhaps if they made the town centre more inviting to shoppers the businesses could afford to pay higher rates.

Reply Posted by Dave on Wednesday October 16 2013 at 12:11
Adult social care is the biggest single area of spending for the council by a long long way. Care home charges, home care etc. Will only get higher too with an ageing population and the planned cap on contributions made by individuals themselves (which I agree with bye the way).

Reply Posted by Cian O'Carroll MRICS on Wednesday October 16 2013 at 12:00
As a Chartered Surveyor specialising in Business Rates, and being Barnsley born and bred, I completely understand the issues Ms Priestley is experiencing. Unfortunately, Rateable Values are set based upon 2008 levels of value, and will continue to be based on these levels until, as mentioned, the revaluation in 2017 (which should have been 2015).

What I would point out is that the Valuation Office have a statutory duty to maintain a correct list. This means that if a ratepayer appeals their RV, and it turns out to be too low, they will increase it. It is therefore important to take advice from a reputable firm before simply going ahead and lodging an appeal. This is a complicated area, with significant amounts of case law, legislation and red tape to navigate.

It also doesn't have a huge amount to do with the council. The law has just changed so that now they collect business rates, send some to central government to be re-distributed, and get to keep a percentage of any growth in the area, but have to foot the bill for any losses or relief they give away, subject to certain limits.

What is certain however is that rates are now a huge factor to consider when making property related decisions as they regularly exceed rental levels now.

Reply Posted by king louis on Wednesday October 16 2013 at 12:08
Mugabe was more subtle with his propaganda machine than some on this site. It seems on every subject there's a Conservative trying to influence some thought politics. The Conservative party who are in power today have brought food banks, child poverty and Wonga loans to the table...I bet your proud of those things too?... The rates in Barnsley are high, destroying businesses and need change.

Reply Posted by Favver on Wednesday October 16 2013 at 12:28
Re Cian O'carroll MRICS ... I'm a refuse collector from the Kendry area (I have 3 GCSE's) - I don't understand your first paragraph ....... I don't understand your second paragraph.... I don't understand your third paragraph .. I don't understand your fourth paragraph .... Infact I don't understand anything you have just posted ... Please try and keep it simple on here ! Thanks in advance

Reply Posted by DW on Wednesday October 16 2013 at 12:45
I suppose the Tories are at fault? Oh wait.....

Wake up Barnsley and stop voting these Labour muppets in.

Reply Posted by observer on Wednesday October 16 2013 at 12:47
@Richard. clearly a tory..no room for you in the town pal. please leave. ok business rates. would vivien wasserface like to put on here how much money she is making from the shop she owns?..maybe then ppl may get behind her and back her up.

Reply Posted by STEVEO on Wednesday October 16 2013 at 18:20
I concur old bean, no room for Tories in this town.

Reply Posted by x on Wednesday October 16 2013 at 12:49
and who do you suggest we vote in to replace them DW

Reply Posted by clothlicker on Wednesday October 16 2013 at 13:05
Mr Ics makes a great point.

It doesn't matter if Barnsley was run by the green party, fathers for justice or the RSPB.

It's the conservatives fault. Well said Cain.

Reply Posted by bob on Wednesday October 16 2013 at 15:44
@favver, excellent very funny. Ps. Excellent means like phat or sick innit.

Reply Posted by rainbow on Wednesday October 16 2013 at 17:16
Barnsley's problem stems from the fact there are not enough people earning a decent wage. Now the Tories are cutting benefits the towns businesses are bound to suffer. Labour did not attract new businesses to Barnsley to replace all those that have been lost in the last 30 years or so.. Barnsley is dying of neglect. It needs 30,000 jobs urgently, but it will need government help and I can't see the Tories helping, pity Labour didn;'t do more in the 13 years they were in office.

Reply Posted by STEVEO on Wednesday October 16 2013 at 18:23
I fully agree, poor wages, the cost of living going up faster than pay.
Labour council failure to attract big business into our town is the main reason that our town has failed to shake the shackles of the past and is still stuck firmly in the 1980's.

Reply Posted by sid on Wednesday October 16 2013 at 17:32
OK,your answer? Get some coloured fairy lights!! That,all solve our money worries eh. Your bonkers.

Reply Posted by j on Wednesday October 16 2013 at 20:29
Cian O'Carroll - I too am from Kendray and I completely understood every paragraph you wrote - please don't think everyone who lives around this area has literacy problems - well written

Reply Posted by Simon Walsh on Wednesday October 16 2013 at 21:20
Favver perhaps you should have got a fourth GCSE and maybe you would understand some big words.

Reply Posted by R. S. Tomes on Thursday October 17 2013 at 06:49
Favver-for all you know Cian is from Kendray or similar area. And he has loads of important letters behind his name.

Reply Posted by Margaret Heppenstall on Thursday October 17 2013 at 08:25
As Cain has pointed out the local authority is to blame - there is only one answer to this - like Mr O'caroll alludes to, which is to vote in a Conservative council.

Reply Posted by Cian O'Carroll MRICS on Thursday October 17 2013 at 12:38
Dear All,
Thank you for your comments.

I feel it is important to note however that I was not suggesting that any one political party should be voted in, or out, of the local council, or central government. Business Rates as a tax has been around for several hundred years and raises billions of pounds of revenue every year. No government is going to get rid of it.

What is needed however is a fairer system. Now that rental values (which is what business rates are based upon) have fallen so dramatically since the last revaluation, they are now completely out of kilter. In my opinion, delaying the revaluation by two years simply adds to the pressure many businesses are feeling.

There are a number of reliefs that rate payers can ask for, some mandatory that must be applied under certain circumstances, some at the discretion of the council. All avenues should be explored however, at the end of the day, if you don't ask then you don't get.

Kind regards
Cian

Reply Posted by paulam2a0 on Friday October 18 2013 at 14:09
If you ask the VOA to come and visit and re assess, they do, they did for me

Reply Posted by Cian OCarroll MRICS on Monday October 21 2013 at 12:11
And if your assessment is too low, they WILL increase it. Better to take professional advice first than try and do it yourself only to end up potentially paying more afterwards.