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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR - PREDICTABLE PROSPERITY

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The debate about the relocalisation of non-domestic rates (LGC, 11 June) is being followed closely by Britain's bus...
The debate about the relocalisation of non-domestic rates (LGC, 11 June) is being followed closely by Britain's business ratepayers.

Although far from perfect, the system of uniform business rates gives a sense of predictability that is essential to the future prosperity of the small business sector.

It is true that some confusion reigns over the role played by councils when it comes to business rates. But a situation in which they can push up rates as easily as they can council tax would engender a sense of unpredictability that would undermine the nation's 3.8 million small firms. Relocalisation would also threaten the sense of partnership that is essential to the success of flagship government schemes, such as business improvement districts.

Not only are UK property taxes considerably higher than those levied by our major trading partners, but proportionally business rates are a greater burden on small businesses than large ones. It is not surprising that for many small firms business rates are the third largest item of expenditure after salaries and rent.

Surely the priority for ministers should be the implementation of a more general rates-relief scheme that brings genuine benefits to small firms rather than ripping up the UBR system that has brought stability, certainty and partnership over the past decade.

Stephen Alambritis

Head of press and parliamentary affairs, Federation of Small Businesses

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