Bath & North East Somerset Council would like to clarify the following facts in relation to inaccurate rumours and assumptions circulating on social media about its support for small businesses:
- Business rates are set nationally by the Government’s Valuation Office Agency – not the Council.
- The rateable value for Hunter & Sons café in Milsom Place is £46,250 - when this is multiplied by the small business multiplier of 0.48 it gives a bill this year of £22,200 – not £29,000
- Business rates for the café property have not gone up by 50% - in 2015, they were £17,131; in 2016 they were £17,270; and in 2017 they were £19,299.
- The Council gave Hunter & Sons a Discretionary Revaluation Relief of £772 last year as well as £1,500 in Retail Relief back in 2015.
- The rent for Hunter & Sons’ commercial property in Milsom Place is set and managed by a private landlord – it is not part of the Council’s estate.
- Retail occupancy is at 95% (compared to 88% nationally), and there is an active independent
sector (64% of properties) and there is a range of international and high street brands (Bath 2018; Carter Jonas).
- Bath has been ranked in the top 3 most resilient retail locations over the last 10 years; according to research on the viability and performance of 250 UK high streets outside central London (UK High Streets: Dead or Alive; Cushman & Wakefield research 2018)
The Council was surprised to learn of the closure of Hunter & Sons via social media, as no-one from the business had contacted us about any hardship or requesting support regarding their rates.
We are committed to working with independent business across Bath and North East Somerset. In the city we work with the Bath Independent Business group, chaired by Cllr Peter Turner. This provides a co-ordinated voice for business and the range of representative groups across the city, which enables us to consult and listen to their issues and work through solutions to help address them. Examples of outcomes include:
- Direct consultation with Planning Policy, giving them the opportunity to feed into the Local Plan re-fresh and the retail based policies.
- Access to 12 hours of free business support, via Cool Ventures, who have also directly supported the Walcot Street Traders Association. This is focussed on the business's direct needs and the support can be a mixture of 1-2-1s and workshops covering anything from HR to online marketing.
We have also had the first meeting of the Retail Group; chaired by Cllr Paul Myers, the Council’s Cabinet Member for Economic and Community Regeneration, where we consulted on our retail action plan. This has led to the initial engagement of the Moorland Road Traders, to understand their needs and see how we can support them.
Outside of the city of Bath, we are working with the Keynsham Business group, led by Keynsham Town Council and linked to the Neighbourhood Plan business survey. We will be providing speakers, introductions to current support programmes and information on relevant issues and topics to help local businesses. We are also supporting the Somer Valley Chamber of Commerce in their efforts to promote superfast broadband to Somer Valley businesses.
If you are a local business and are in need of support please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.