Share

Rates of change

Victor Ling and his photography shop on Gorleston High Street
Blogs

Rates of change1

Fundraising | Robert Ashton | 10 Jul 2012

Fact: charity shops enjoy an unfair advantage on the high street.  And that's not good for anybody's business, says Robert Ashton.

At the same time as the UK government is giving 12 Portas Pilot towns £100,000 each to regenerate the high street, local authorities are quietly stuffing the businesses already there.

You see, just as private landlords know that times are tough and have reduced commercial rents, business rates are based on a historic rateable value. As we all know, there are lots of empty shops out there and one of the key recommendations of the Portas Review was that “local authorities should use their new discretionary powers to give business rate concessions to new local businesses”.

Recognising that times are tough, Osborne extended small business rate relief in the last Budget. This means that small businesses occupying premises with a rateable value of less than £12,000 effectively pay no rates until April 2013. For many it’s a lifesaver, freeing up cash to invest in building the business in today’s tough marketplace.

But local authorities don’t seem to see it the same way. My friend Victor Ling and his wife Yvonne recently took over a photography business. It’s on Gorleston High Street in Norfolk. It’s one of the region’s most deprived wards, with high unemployment, poor health and few jobs. But Victor is ambitious and networks well. His business will succeed and bring benefits to his neighbours as he attracts new customers to the high street.

Victor took on an empty shop in a prime location on a crossroads, opposite a bus stop. He negotiated a lease of £8,000pa, a significant reduction on the asking price. The landlord recognised that Victor would be a punctual payer and be there for the duration. This was not a business likely to fail. In fact it’s exactly the kind of business Britain’s high streets need.

So what about business rates? Well the rateable value is £15,000 and while the landlord could see the merit in reducing his rent, the rateable value remains unchanged. Victor has to pay full business rates with no rebate. The charity shops around him enjoy 80 per cent rate relief, irrespective of the size of their premises. Rightly he feels more than a little aggrieved; it’s a £6,000 annual cost.

To be honest, I don’t know exactly where to point the finger of blame. Is it the HMRC Valuation Office for failing to reduce rateable value in line with falling rents? Or perhaps it’s Great Yarmouth Borough Council who have it within their gift to make concessions to brave entrepreneurs willing to invest in the high street.

It’s no good government throwing a few grants at high streets like missionaries throw beads if the rate of change in local authorities is too slow.

Barbara
10 Jul 2012

I understand people saying that charity shops are just filling spaces not filled by commercial business. But what actually happens is that these empty properties could prompt some entrepreneurial individuals to open some small business or shop while it's not possible for everything being taken by charity shops. Also, who wants to visit high street filled with charity shops? And where people are supposed to work? It's all nice of them to offer volunteering opportunities, but charity shops need to be honest about pushing employment out of high streets.

Comments

[Cancel] | Reply to:

Close »

Community Standards

The civilsociety.co.uk community and comments board is intended as a platform for informed and civilised debate.

We hope to encourage a broad range of views, however, there are standards that we expect commentators to uphold. We reserve the right to delete or amend any comments that do not adhere to these standards.

We welcome:

  • Robust but respectful debate
  • Strongly held opinions
  • Intelligent relevant discussion
  • The sharing of relevant experiences
  • New participants

We will not publish:

  • Rude, threatening, offensive, obscene or abusive language, or links to such material
  • Links to commercial organisations or spam postings. The comments board is not an advertising platform
  • The posting of contact details for yourself or others
  • Comments intended for malicious purpose or mindless abuse
  • Comments purporting to be from another person or organisation under false pretences
  • Gratuitous criticism, commentary or self-promotion
  • Any material which breaches copyright or privacy laws, or could be considered libellous
  • The use of the comments board for the pursuit or extension of personal disputes

Be aware:

  • Views expressed on the comments board are left at users’ discretion and are in no way views held or supported by Civil Society Media
  • Comments left by others may not be accurate, do not rely on them as fact
  • You may be misunderstood - sarcasm and humour can easily be taken out of context, try to be clear

Please:

  • Enjoy the opportunity to express your opinion and respect the right of others to express theirs
  • Confine your remarks to issues rather than personalities

Together we can keep our community a polite, respectful and intelligent platform for discussion.

Robert Ashton

Robert Ashton is a social entrepreneur, campaigner and author.

Robert is a vice patron of Norfolk Community Foundation and chairs Human Library UK CIC.

Celina Ribeiro (94) Niki May Young (36) Jonathon Grapsas (30) Michael Naidu (23) Adrian Beney (20) Andrew Scadding (20) Kirsty Weakley (19) Andrew Chaggar (17) Vibeka Mair (15) Jonathan Waddingham (15)
Suzie Who (15) David Philpott (14) Robert Ashton (12) Tania Mason (11) Daniel Fletcher (9) David Burrows (8) Alistair McLean (7) Jenna Pudelek (7) Gareth Jones (6) Beth Yorath (6) Leon Ward (6) Stephen Pidgeon (5) Reuben Turner (5) Rowena Lewis (5) Tobin Aldrich (5) Mark Astarita (4) Lucy Caldicott (4) Tony Elischer (4) Joe Saxton (4) Tod Norman (4) Ian Clark (4) David Ainsworth (4) Alan Gosschalk (3) Richard Radcliffe (3) Pauline Broomhead (3) Jeremy Swain (3) Gordon Hunter (3) Ingrid Marson (3) Lisa Clavering (3) Adam Rothwell (2) Beth Breeze (2) Matthew Bowcock (2) Ian MacQuillin (2) Tris Lumley (2) John Tate (2) Garreth Spillane (2) Liz Tait (2) Chester Mojay-Sinclare (2) Allan Freeman (2) Claire Routley (2) Lindsay Boswell (1) Victoria Cook (1) David Davison (1) Bill Lewis (1) Giles Pegram (1) Jo Swinhoe (1) Derek Humphries (1) Alan Clayton (1) Cathy Pharoah (1) Stephen George (1) Gordon Michie (1) Chris Ingram (1) Martin Farrell (1) Morag Fleming (1) Matt Goody (1) Paul Farthing (1) Jackie Mendoza (1) Max Du Bois (1) Alan Hawkes (1) Ken Burnett (1) Ian Allsop (1) Martin Brookes (1) Tesse Akpeki (1) Anne Moynihan (1) Sara Llewellin (1) Rupert Tappin (1) Julia Unwin (1) Jessica Sklair (1) Scott Gray (1) Stephen Hammersley (1) Keith Collins (1) Joe Jenkins (1) Peter O'Hara (1) Debbie Attwood (1) Joanna Motion (1) Paul Marvell (1) Amanda McLean (1) Jason Suckley (1) Paul Amadi (1) Imogen Ward (1) June O'Sullivan (1) Kath Abrahams (1) Peter Lewis (1) Dan Corry (1) Douglas Rouse (1) Belinda Pratten (1) Jonathan Last (1) Jenni Cahill (1) Paul Emery (1) Marcelle Speller (1) Nick Aldridge (1) Philip Spedding (1) Tom Latchford (1) Sir David Varney (1) Liam Barrington-Bush (1) Lucy Gower (1) Jeff Brooks (1) Vicki Prout (1) Dawn Austwick (1) Dan Thompson (1) Steven George-Hilley (1) Emma-Lynn Houghton (1) Peter Horah (1) Neelam Makhijani (1) George Matafonov (1) Marcus Missen (1) Denise Lillya (1) Alice Sharman (1) Jaz Nannar (1) Ali Stunt (1) Robin Fisk (1) Gillian Claugher (1) Lynne McMahon (1) Emma Callagher (1)
Less +++ More +++

Newmark needs to understand unpopular fundraising methods

9 Sep 2014

The new minister for civil society will have to decide what he thinks about chuggers and telephone fundraising,...

No way to remember them

1 Sep 2014

Andrew Hind is concerned that the government's behaviour towards civil society organisations could threaten...

It's time for the sector to front up and prove it has nothing to hide

19 Aug 2014

The sector's representative bodies must be bolder in telling the Charity Commission what they think of...

Brooks Newmark on passion, politics and campaigning

5 Sep 2014

Earlier this week the new minister for civil society Brooks Newmark caused controversy with his remarks...

Reaction to Newmark's knitting comments

4 Sep 2014

Unsurprisingly the sector was quick to respond to Brooks Newmark’s comment that charities should “stick...

Too much focus on reputational risk?

28 Aug 2014

Risks must always be weighed up against potential benefits, says Dorothy Dalton.

Free eNews