Skip to content

Entrepreneurs Panel

Debbie Pierce
Laura Tenison
Julie Meyer
David Pollock
Tony Caldeira
Richard O'Sullivan
Jeremy Roberts
Charlie Mullins
Jennie Johnson
Steve Purdham
Brian Hay
Michael Oliver

Business rates "most despised commercial tax"

Business rates are the "most despised commercial tax" among SMEs, with more than nine out of ten saying charges are too high and two-thirds claiming they see no benefit from the money they pay, a new poll has found.

The survey of members of the Forum of Private Business (FPB) showed that 28 per cent believe the fairness of the tax system as a whole has deteriorated under the Coalition, while a quarter felt dealing with tax had become more complex and 26 per cent said that the efficiency of the system has declined.

Only 17 per cent thought the fairness of the tax system had improved, while 14 per cent said that it had been simplified. Only one in ten thought the efficiency of HM Revenue & Customs had improved under the Coalition - a point the FPB said would raise concerns about the agency's ability to handle the "huge change" of Real Time Information for payroll.

Phil Orford, chief executive of the FPB, said, "It's probably fair to say that business rates are the most despised of all commercial taxes by today's small business owner in the UK.

"It's a crippling tax that business owners simply have no choice but to pay and for many who claim to see no discernible benefit to having paid up, it clearly sticks in their craw.

"While there's no doubt that businesses should pay their way for services such as bin collections and for roads to be properly maintained, many feel their hard-earned cash is not being spent wisely, or certainly not for their advantage or benefit. It's evident that business rates are increasingly being viewed as a crude lever to extract cash from hard working entrepreneurs, much of which they'll never see again.

"This research shows George Osborne really has to consider - and seriously - making a credible concession to small business in the Budget on this moot point. Businesses are clearly unhappy about the spiralling costs of [non-domestic rates] and we think the tipping point is about to arrive, if it hasn't already.

"If rates keep charging upwards then businesses are going to go bust - it's as simple as that."

Business rates are set to increase by 2.6 per cent in April.

By Andy Jowett

  • Kathryn Parsons, co-founder of Decoded, started with little more than faith and determination, but four years later it’s grown into a global business. Ahead of her appearance at Accelerate 2015 in...

  • Author, writer and marketer Ryan Holiday on how entrepreneurs need to interpret failure.

  • Sue Vizard, business coach and author of Jump Start: The Start-up Book for Your Dream Business, looks at some of the questions solo entrepreneurs should ask themselves.

  • Ian Wright, founder and chief executive of, is bringing together SMEs and NEDs - without the hefty recruitment fees.

  • Former professional golfer turned entrepreneur Colin Stevens has had a busy 18 months. The Better Bathrooms founder has increased turnover at the firm, secured a multi-million pound investment and...

Five Minutes With

Reputation is everything when it comes to running a successful business, according to Sacha Lord-Marchionne and Sam Kandel, founders of the Warehouse Project (WHP), a series of club nights featuring DJs from all over the world, which was launched back in 2006.

After travelling the world in a corporate role, Mike Wheeler decided that he had had enough of living out of a suitcase and so got a job running a small family business.