Demands for action in Lancashire as bailiffs are sent in to seize goods from struggling firms

The Chancellor is facing fresh calls to deliver Budget measures to ease the burden of business rates after new figures showed councils are sending bailiffs to 310 companies a day over arrears.

Tuesday, 24th September 2019, 2:48 pm
Updated Tuesday, 24th September 2019, 3:48 pm
Chancellor Sajid Javid

An investigation by real estate adviser Altus Group has found that councils have sent bailiffs to more than 78,000 companies across England that have struggled to pay their business rates in the year to the end of March.

Today the North and Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce joined calls for urgent action.

Bailiffs were given power to enter properties, seize goods and sell them at public auction in order to settle debts.

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Blackpool Council was among those who sought collection through bailiffs on more than 15 per cent of business premises in its area.

Altus said around one in 16 of all business premises faced having goods seized by bailiffs last year, when stripping out those who receive small business rates relief.

The figures come after 50 retailers – including Marks & Spencer, Harrods and Iceland – wrote to Chancellor Sajid Javid last month demanding action on the business rates burden to safeguard the future of the high street.

Firms across England could see their rates increase by £536 million for 2020-21, if the headline rate of inflation of 1.7 per cent remains unchanged in September, according to Altus.

Retailers will shoulder £136.9 million of that hike.

Mr Javid is being called on to freeze the tax in the upcoming Budget to help these firms, many of which are already under pressure from rising costs and rents.

Alan Welsh, Policy Manager at the North & Western Lancashire Chamber said today: “We would echo the calls for the Chancellor to freeze business rates in his next budget.

“ The government introduced some additional relief measures at the last budget but these don’t go far enough.

"High street retailers in particular are enduring difficult trading conditions and already face rising business costs from the national living wage, pensions auto enrolment and the apprenticeship levy.”