Mart profits given too little weight for rates, says MP

Hawes Auction Mart.  Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe
Hawes Auction Mart. Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe
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Huge business rate hikes for livestock auction marts do not take into account profitability or the legacy of Foot and Mouth, according to Richmond MP Rishi Sunak.

Mr Sunak has written to the Leader of the Commons, David Lidington, about “eye-watering” increases in business rates facing the livestock markets at Hawes, Leyburn and Northallerton after raising the issue in the chamber last week.

Marts across Yorkshire face steep rises following a routine review of the rating system, as do other rural businesses, such as equestrian centres.

Mr Sunak said: “While the majority of businesses will pay the same or less in rates following the revaluation, it is clear a small number of rural businesses are being asked to carry a disproportionate burden.”

Hefty charges will not be immediately forthcoming with a transitional rate relief scheme worth £3.6bn set to limit rates bill rises in the first year to 12.5 per cent, however the relief will taper off over five years. At the end of that five-year cushion, Hawes could be expected to pay about 270 per more, Northallerton 145 per cent more and Leyburn 92 per cent more.

“These businesses are not making huge profits and such increases will be very difficult to absorb,” Mr Sunak said.

The MP has discussed the rise facing Hawes auction mart with the mart’s chairman Andrew Pratt. Between now and 2022, the mart’s rates bill is projected to increase from around £7,000 to almost £24,000.

Mr Sunak said that having seen the mart’s income and expenses for the last seven years it was clear that while turnover had increased, and had been a factor in the revaluation, so had its costs, leaving profitability flat.

He said that another factor in the increase was a low valuation in 2010 which had been based on the mart’s turnover in 2008 at the tailend of the foot-and-mouth outbreak.

The MP added: “It is unreasonable that critical businesses in some of most economically fragile areas, which might be only marginally profitable, should face dramatic increases in their rates.”