Re-energising our high streets and town centres has long been a campaigning topic for The Star.
Today we join forces with the rest of Johnston Press – our parent company – to call on the government to completely overhaul the business rating system.
We have spoken to businesses across the area who want the issue looking at as a matter of urgency so they can have a chance to thrive.
At present business rates are set by government based on a formula which includes shop area and property value in 2008 – the peak of the market.
Half of the money paid out by the businesses goes to the government and half to the local authority.
As well as the feeling that they’re paying above the current market value there is also the question of where the money is spent.
Councils across the land and the government are never short of reminding us about cuts to their budgets, which affect our services. High rates – and taxes for that matter – are barriers to growth and prevent business owners from investing in more staff or improved infrastructure.
It would appear to be common sense to give businesses a chance to thrive in tough economic circumstances.
We hope our message gets through.