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Westminster City Council

Westminster’s campaign around business rates and supporting local businesses

Westminster City Council is continuing to find ways to help businesses within its geography to cope with the new business rates due to come into effect next week. The Council is aware of the impact which the rate re-evaluation held in 2015 might have on local businesses.

As a key service provider within the Council, the Commercial Waste Team has put together a ‘question and answer’ blog on business rates. We’ve included responses from the Council, and how Commercial Waste can help play its part.

Business rates: What are they and what is happening?

‘Business rates’ is a local tax that is paid by the occupiers of all non-domestic/business property. Properties include shops, offices, pubs, warehouses and factories. You receive a business rates bill each year.

Whilst collected by the local authority, the vast majority of the rates are passed to Central Government. So the rates actually fund the Treasury and not local services provided by councils such as waste collection.

In April, business rates are being updated to take into account changes in property values. Business rates can be a major expenditure after salaries and rent. Some rates have gone up as high as 400% but 30%+ is being seen as more common expectation.

Why such an impact in Westminster?

Westminster collects over 8% of national business rates with over 50,000 businesses. The West End alone provides more business taxes for the Exchequer than any other place in the UK – some £17bn annually. For more on business rates in Westminster please follow this link.

What is Westminster City Council doing?

  1. Campaigning for change

Cllr Lindsey Hall, Deputy Cabinet Member for Business, Culture and Heritage, said:

“Westminster City Council is leading the way, alongside the city’s businesses, in calling for a full review of the proposed changes and effectiveness of the business rates system. With unprecedented competition from on-line shopping giants, as well as the highest rental costs in the country, confidence and stability for local businesses – big and small – is more important than ever.

“The last thing we want to see are businesses closing and jobs lost because costs are unsustainable. Our city’s diverse businesses must be protected so that they can continue to invest in jobs and in turn maintain and grow the nation’s economic prosperity.”

  1. Claiming a fair share of relief

Cllr Robert Davis MBE DL, Westminster City Council Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Business, Culture and Heritage, said: “The targeted business rate help that was announced for pubs and small businesses by the Chancellor is good news. We await the full details, particularly on the £300m discretionary relief fund for local authorities.

“We will be pressing central government, through the consultation exercise, for a fairer transitional scheme that provides a realistic spreading of any increases over a sustainable period of time”.

  1. Offering the best possible value-for-money services to local businesses

In a recent Guardian Small Business Network article on the April rate changes, a restaurant chain owner explained how retail businesses such as his own have so many costs that margins have been continually falling. Rents are rising and so are costs such as energy, licensing, rubbish collection and the minimum wage. At the same time looking at the actual costs for customers who eat out, the prices are pretty much the same. The sharp increase in rates is therefore a major concern to businesses like this.

Commercial Waste Services

As the owner mentioned above rightly pointed out, business waste collection services can be a key cost particularly to retail and hospitality businesses. There are two things that Commercial Waste Services can help with:

  • Keeping the costs as low as possible

Costs as very competitive with no VAT charged (so helping the smaller businesses) and costs start from as low as 75p per collected bag. Collection prices are being held the same in April.

  • Helping businesses reduce the amount of waste that needs collecting.

Commercial Waste have a number of guides on its website (cleanstreets.westminster.gov.uk). Businesses and their employees can do a lot to reduce the amount of waste that needs collecting and so help reduce costs. See “Top Tips to Reducing Waste”.

Please do also feel free to talk to your local commercial waste representative who can run through your current waste set-up and make suggestions for improvements and savings.

See if we can save you money immediately

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If you are currently not collected via Westminster’s Commercial Waste Service, why not get a quote from us now – there could be a significant saving if you’ve not looked at your contract recently. We recently saved a customer 50% compared to their previous provider.