Philip Hammond must back down from the “looming nightmare” of higher business rates in his Budget or risk a revolt in the Tory heartlands, a vice-chairman of the Conservative Party has warned.
Mark Field, Tory MP for Cities of London and Westminster, says that retailers in his constituency will “simply shut up shop” unless the Chancellor limits the impact of the first revaluation of business rates in seven years.
It comes as Mary Portas, a retail expert who previously advised the Government on regenerating the High Street, claims that “at least a third” of independent shops will die off under the plans.
Writing for The Telegraph she describes the revaluation as “the single biggest blow to independent shops since the financial crisis” and urges the ministers to “end the madness”.
However Sajid Javid, the Business Secretary, today says that claims that the Government is forcing “countless companies out of business” are a “myth”.
He accuses “unscrupulous agents” of “cynically twisting the facts beyond all recognition” and says that the revalution represents “the biggest-ever cut in business rates”.
The Government is being urged to reconsider “penal and unfair” rises in business rates amid warnings that some firms face being hit with a huge rise in their bills.
The new rates, which take effect in April and represent the first change in almost a decade, will see companies paying rates which have been calculated to take into account the rise in property prices since 2008.
It means many businesses in the South East will face soaring rates while others in areas where High Street rental prices have fallen will benefit.
Mr Field is one of more than 20 Tory MPs whose constituencies are facing a significant rise in business rates from next year amid warnings that 500,000 traders will be forced to pay more.
Under the Government’s plans companies will see their business rates rise by up to 42 per cent next year. The cap was previously set at 12.5 per cent, and Tory MPs are calling for it to be lowered to help businesses adjust to the change.