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FSB Chairman warns chancellor after inflation rate rises

The United Kingdom's inflation rate has hit a five-and-a-half year high, rising to 3 per cent in September 2017, up from August's 2.9 per cent.

Responding to the inflation statistics, including confirmation of the Retail Prices Index (RPI) figure that business rates bills will increase by 3.9 per cent in April, Mike Cherry, Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) National Chairman, said: “Today’s RPI figure follows six months of business rates misery for our small business community.

"Since April’s bruising revaluation we’ve had the staircase tax, introduction of an unworkable appeals platform and chronic delays to the Chancellor’s £435 million relief package. A near four per cent bill increase next April, on top of losing year one transitional caps, will be the last straw for many.

“With the Brexit clock ticking, other nations are trying to tempt our entrepreneurs to their shores. The Budget is the Chancellor’s opportunity to position the UK as the best place in the world to do business. Bringing forward CPI-indexation for rates bills from 2020 to 2018 would be a good place to start. Our business rates are already the highest in Europe.    

“Small firms have waited too long for a business rates lifeline. Only last week we were told that under half of English councils have started allocating their share of the £300 million hardship fund launched in March. While local authorities have been hoarding this much needed support, entrepreneurs have desperately been trying to make ends meet.

   
“Small businesses are really starting to feel the inflationary squeeze. Rising prices mean less customer spending power – one in three small firms sees consumer demand as a barrier to growth. Seven in ten report a rise in operating costs, costs which ultimately have to be passed on in the form of reduced wages or further price increases.  

“The Chancellor should give careful consideration to his inaugural Autumn Budget. The last thing our businesses need is new tax increases or loss of entrepreneurial reliefs.”