Last Friday I was delighted to visit a number of small businesses on Kenton Road, including ‘Artistic Visions’, who produce bespoke exhibition and trade fair stands.

I discussed with the owners Natalie and Subhash, the real difficulties many small businesses in the local area face, when subject to the pressures of high business rates and rent increases.

These family businesses and SMEs are the backbone of our economy, providing 60 per cent of private-sector jobs.

Yet this Conservative Government has taken small businesses for granted. The outdated business rates system is crippling high street retailers and creating an uneven playing field.

Last April, rates were re-evaluated resulting in the average small shop being hit by an extra £3,663 in rates over the next 5 years.

In comparison, large supermarket chains saw a 5.9% reduction in their rateable value, while online retailer ASOS bill fell from £1.17million to £1.14million despite UK sales growth.

A Labour government will revise the criteria of “reasonable professional judgement”, to make sure that every business has a practicable right to a fair appeals system.

It is unacceptable for businesses to be required to pay up to 15% over their true rateable value, and a Labour government would reduce this in line with business recommendations.

We have promised to launch a review of the entire business rates system and to consult properly with business about what a system of taxation suitable for the 21st Century should look like.

When I took up this particular case with Brent Council, I was advised that they qualified for ‘Retail Rate Relief’. It is good that Brent Council is now identifying certain businesses in the constituency that are entitled to relief under this scheme.

However, if you are a small business operating within Brent North, and you think you are entitled to relief, please contact my office at barry.gardiner.mp@parliament.uk, and I will be happy to work with you to check your Retail Rate Relief eligibility.

Barry with Subhash, co-owner of small business
Barry with Subhash, co-owner of small business 'Artistic Visions'
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