Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has thrown his weight behind The Star’s campaign to end the blight of crippling business rates.
The Sheffield Hallam MP added his voice to calls for a better system which helps create more jobs.
He said: “The Star is absolutely right to launch this campaign and I welcome the fact that they are championing the need for change in business rates.
“It’s something the Liberal Democrats in Government recognise and an important review is under way to try and deliver a better system which helps create and secure more jobs.
“As a Government we have helped small businesses by securing the economic recovery, extending small business rate relief and providing grants to help them take on apprentices.
“However, we know there are a lot of issues. It’s a system that was set up decades ago and other challenges have arisen.”
At a time of unprecedented pressures from the internet and the recession, and a host of costs including rent, small businesses also have to find thousands of pounds in rates.
Traders, business bodies and pressure groups say it is the biggest barrier to growth, to taking on staff and to independent start-ups who could occupy the hundreds of empty shops across the region.
The Star and parent company Johnston Press have launched a campaign calling for an urgent reform of the rating system.
We demand they are frozen while a review is conducted.
Some shopkeepers have benefited from a rates relief scheme – but some argue it should go much further.
At present half the rates go to Government and half to local authorities.
Coun Leigh Bramall, Sheffield City Council’s member for business said:”We are aware business rates are a major barrier to some businesses, particularly on the high street, but the council does not set business rates.
“However, we are trying to create the conditions in which businesses can grow and succeed.
“Businesses play a vital role of creating wealth and in providing jobs. We want to see a fair and transparent business rates system that is easy to understand.”