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Business rate hikes will hit local tourist industry - Farron

February 21, 2017 11:36 AM

Thousands of local hotels, pubs, museums and camping sites could be set to see their business rates soar once new changes take effect from April, in a change which local MP Tim Farron has slammed as "massively damaging" for the local tourist economy.

The government is revaluing all property values, which business rates are based on, for the first time since 2010. Although on average retail premises in South Lakeland will see their rateable value fall by almost 2%, this is not the case for thousands of other businesses that the local tourist economy relies on.

Almost 2400 hotels and boarding houses in South Lakeland face an average increase in their rateable values of 25%, while almost 200 camping sites and holiday centres face an average increase of 19%. Over 200 licensed properties in the area also face an average increase of 23% in their rateable value. 26 museums and libraries in the district will see their rateable value increase by 65%.

Tim has written to the Chancellor to raise concerns about the impact of these changes on local businesses. While in government, the Lib Dems started a full review of the structure of business rates, but this was dropped by the Conservatives once the coalition ended.

Tim said: "Here in the South Lakes, the tourist industry is central to our economy, supporting thousands of jobs. It is incredibly concerning that the government's business rate changes will slap huge tax rises on so many businesses central to this sector. The South Lakes relies on attracting visitors from across the globe, but massive tax rises will make it ever harder for our area to compete. The government should support our tourist economy, not threaten it by treating it as a cash cow.

"The government should also look more generally at reforming the structure of business rates, to ensure that multinationals pay their fair share, while levelling the playing field between high street and online retailers."