A licensee hit by a 200% business rates increase has described yesterday’s Budget measures as a ‘joke’ and said it may force her to close down.
As reported by Imbibe last week, Stacey Thomas from the Lexington, in Pentonville Road in Islington, is faced with a business rates bill of £200,000. Though the business does qualify for transitional relief, it will still be due to pay £44,000 from April, an increase of £14,000 a year.
Yesterday chancellor Philip Hammond announced special protection for pubs, with all pubs with a rateable value of less than £100,000 to receive a £1,000 discount on their 2017 bill. Though the move is estimated to cover 90% of pubs in England, it will not help those with the highest increases, according to Thomas.
‘I’m astonished,’ she said. ‘Firstly, we have been unfairly catapulted into and over the threshold of the larger business margin of £100,000, with a 200% increase. So where is our compensation?
‘And secondly, even if our rates stayed the same we would be accountable to pay £31,000 per year. To get £1,000 off that is nothing. It's peanuts. It's irrelevant and will do nothing to stop businesses like ours closing down.’
Hammond also announced that local authorities are to receive a £300m fund to deliver discretionary relief to help ease the burden on individual hard cases. Furthermore, any business coming out of Small Business Rate Relief will benefit from an additional cap, that will mean their rates will not increase by more than £50 a month.
However, Thomas added: ‘I have never in all my life been so personally financially affected by any Budget as this one. Tax increases, VAT increases, everything can be dealt with and we move on. But this is literally going to force me to close my doors after a lifetime of committing to operating and owning live music spaces. It's a very sad day.
‘The knock-on effect of us closing is massive. It's not just staff, it's suppliers, it's cab drivers, it's local restaurants and pubs that pick-up trade before our gigs. There are literally so many things, as well as the death of yet another live music venue.’