Popular country pub the Richmond Arms faces an ‘uncertain future’ after a huge hike in its business rates.
Landlord William Jack, who owns and runs the West Ashling pub with wife Emma, said their rateable value has risen from £8,600 to £38,000 - an increase of more than 300 per cent.
William estimates it will cost his business an extra £16,000.
“We’re facing a massive, massive increase. For us it leaves a big black hole,” William said.
“When we took on The Richmond Arms six years ago it was completely derelict but through hard graft and a passion for what we do we’ve made it a success. Now we’re being punished.”
The Government sets the rateable value of businesses and steep rises from April will reportedly affect thousands of small businesses across the country.
William said the sudden hike in rateable value for the Richmond Arms by around £30,000 means it can no longer benefit from a small business rate reduction or a rural rate reduction.
“How we can no longer be considered a small business is beyond me and we’re as rural as it gets, you can count on one hand the amount of cars that pass us in a day,” William said.
“My wife and I have both worked 80-90 hours a week for the last six years to turn the pub around.
“We needed to be multi-faceted so we became a B&B and we’re very strong on food and through hard work we’re rated in the top 50 pubs for food in the country and have won lots of awards.
“But we are basic rate tax payers, we’re not rolling around in Bentleys.
“We hardly took a wage for the first couple of years and if you looked at our hourly rate we’re earning below minimum wage, definitely.
William says they will go from paying no business rates because of the previous reductions to around £16,000 the next financial year.
But he said defiantly: “I can’t afford to pay it and I’m not going to pay it.
“We’re not the only ones incensed. I know a lot of other small businesses owners who have been hit in this area and if we come together to lobby for change we will be a lot stronger.
And he warned: “This might be the final nail in the coffin.
“Pubs like ours are a big part of the community but so many have closed in the last six years and becoming housing.
“The pub sector has continually been hit but this might be the final straw for us.”
Chichester District Council said it can advise businesses that have been hit by high rises.
A spokesperson said: “We can understand the concern shown by businesses that have seen a significant increase in their rateable value and we want to help them as much as we can.
“What many people are unaware of is that we collect the business rates, but we do not set or control them.
“The Valuation Office Agency decides on the rateable value of the property and this is multiplied by a figure, which is set by the Government.
“The majority of the money collected is then sent to the Government.
“The rateable values are assessed by the Valuation Office Agency. This does not raise extra money for the Government. “Instead, it reassesses the value of each property so that the national rates bill is shared fairly amongst all businesses.
“For those who see a significant increase, the Government has introduced a transitional relief scheme to assist them. Also, if a business feels that their rateable value is wrong, we would urge them to appeal against this by contacting the Valuation Agency.
“We would advise any business who is in this situation to contact us so that we can advise them on the best steps to take.”
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