Wilson and Sharma back Bill to support small businesses

4th February 2009

Reading East MP, Rob Wilson, and Reading West Parliamentary Candidate, Alok Sharma, announced their support this week for a Private Members’ Bill (PMB) which would see business rate relief granted automatically for small businesses - a vital boost during the economic downturn.

The Small Business Rate Relief (Automatic Payment) Bill was recently tabled by Peter Luff MP, Chairman of the Business and Enterprise committee.

Roughly half of eligible businesses currently do not claim the relief, according to Conservative Party research. The reason is that many simply don’t know it exists. This is why Rob and Alok have taken the decision to further their local Small Business Rate Relief campaign by working with Peter Luff to introduce legislation that would ensure that local authorities include the exemption on rate bills automatically. Peter Luff visited Reading last week to discuss the campaign.

According to the Local Government Association (LGA) £400 million was left unclaimed by businesses entitled to rate relief in 2006 and they estimate that the relief can save businesses up to £2,500 a year. A similar Bill making rate relief automatic was passed into law in Wales in April 2007.

Commenting on the Bill, Rob said, “I’m delighted that my Hon Friend, Peter Luff, has tabled this Bill. It takes the Conservatives’ campaign to help small businesses to the next level and it has my full support. Wales has passed a similar Bill into law and I can’t see why this Government hasn’t made similar steps during these difficult times for the economy.”

“It is quite evident that the Government has botched its handling of the economic crisis and people are having to rely on Conservatives for the ideas to get the country out of this mess created by Gordon Brown.”

Alok added, “It was great to see Peter Luff in Reading last week and together he and I had a very good discussion with local representatives of the Federation of Small Businesses who are fully behind Peter's excellent Small Business Rate Relief (Automatic Payment) Bill.

“Despite a lot of huffing and puffing from Government Ministers about new initiatives to help business the reality is that many local businesses have seen no easing of credit from lenders, no practical help from Government and no assistance with business cashflow issues. Peter's Bill will, if passed into law, provide some welcome relief for small local businesses who are battling to keep going and maintaining very valuable local jobs.”