Finance / Philip Hammond urged to tackle ‘staircase tax’ on businesses

Philip Hammond urged to tackle ‘staircase tax’ on businesses

Philip Hammond is under pressure to take action on the so-called "staircase tax", which has been branded an "absolute scandal" by business groups.

Senior Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat MPs have now joined calls to scrap new proposals on business rates.

A Supreme Court ruling allows the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) to allocate levy rates individually on offices on separate floors or corridors, where previously they were treated as a single premises.

The Federation of Small Business (FSB) has warned many small firms could be set for a substantial hike in their bills, with the changes backdated to 2015 in England and 2010 in Wales.

Tory MP Nicky Morgan, who chairs the Treasury select committee, is the latest to speak out, alongside shadow business minister Chi Onwurah and Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable.

Mike Cherry, the FSB’s national chairman, said tens of thousands of businesses would be affected, with many also losing their eligibility for small business rates relief.

“The staircase tax adds another element of chaos to a business rates system in disarray,” Mr Cherry said.

“Time after time, Government is failing to reform an outdated, regressive business rates system.

“Backdating a tax businesses didn’t even know they were liable for is the worst kind of anti-business action, making the UK look like a hostile place to invest at a time of unprecedented uncertainty.

“The VOA is hitting small firms with backdated bills, despite the Supreme Court ordering them to exercise ‘common sense’ – it’s an absolute scandal.

“Tens of thousands of businesses will be affected. The Cabinet should recognise the problem, get a grip and sort it out.”

Steve Parsons/PA Wire