On Monday (24 April) in the House of Commons, Rachael Maskell MP for York Central, called upon the Business Minister, Sajid Javid, to provide more help for small businesses in York which are struggling because of changes that the Government have made to Business Rates.
The York Central MP asked the Minister a number of Parliamentary Questions on behalf of business owners who have contacted her to raise concern about the high cost of their Business Rates. In the past few months the MP has been contacted by business owners from across the city who have told her they are struggling to trade because of the high cost of business rates and the unfairness of the Government’s changes to the system. They have told the MP York is especially disadvantaged because of the high cost of rents in the city which result in over inflated property prices and high rateable values which do not reflect the amount of footfall on the high street. Often the landlords do not live in York and operate through agencies.
This is resulting in a high number of businesses in York struggling to stay afloat and many are seeing a sharp decline in their profits. Some businesses have already closed with others struggling to stay open. If something is not done York faces boarded up streets and empty shops. Ms Maskell has consistently been questioning government ministers from the Treasury, Business and Local Government Departments and has organised a number of meetings on this issue.
Rachael Maskell’s questions to the Minister are shown below together with his responses:
2. What steps he is taking to ensure that local councils support small businesses. 
We have doubled the level of small business rate relief to 100% and made it permanent. This means that around 600,000 small businesses will pay no business rates at all. At Budget, we also announced a £300 million discretionary fund so that councils can provide additional support to businesses facing increased bills.
York’s economy is being damaged by sharp business rate increases due to the revaluations. While the exemption from paying the full business rates has risen from £12,000 to £15,000, business rate increases have rocketed far beyond that in York. This is totally unfair, and small businesses in the city, previously exempt, are now desperate. Some are facing a 600% increase in their rateable value, including The Slip Inn, and no one knows how the new relief funds will even be distributed—total chaos! Can the Secretary of State say why the business rate burden is falling harder on smaller businesses and if he will urgently review the exemption level?
Overall, businesses in the north have seen on average a fall through the revaluation process.
What about York?
The hon. Lady talks about York. Since 2010 York has had a 74% fall in unemployment. That is because York has a Conservative-led council working with a Conservative Government. If the Labour party gets its anti-business agenda and hikes up taxes on businesses throughout the country, we know what the result will be.
Commenting afterwards, Rachael Maskell MP said:
“In the last few months I have met with business owners from across the city and several have told me they face closure if more is not done to help them. Sadly, the Minister has not grasped the seriousness of the situation and he has said nothing which will reassure business owners that help is on the way. He talks about an average fall in business rates in the north but this does nothing to address the concerns of business owners here in York. I have explained to the Minister that rents in York are comparable with those in the South of the country and not the north of England and this situation disadvantages businesses because of over inflated rateable values. The Minister appears to miss the point all together and this is bad news for business owners in York.
“I am concerned that the Minister’s dismissive attitude will result in more businesses folding in the city. He needs to listen and take people’s concerns on board or we will see more derelict buildings and empty high streets.”
“Labour has set out its plan for small businesses which will include a total reform of business rates, ending quarterly accounting for businesses and creating a business-friendly regulatory environment.”