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The Reader: Business rates reform is crucial for our recovery

I absolutely agree with Jim Armitage’s 10-point plan (Comment, October 22) to allow London to bounce back once the pandemic passes, however I would add a crucially important 11th point — business rates.

Businesses across the capital are on their knees, with significantly less revenue than expected combined with mounting costs. It is vital that the business rates relief offered by the Government continues to prevent closures across the capital, save tens of thousands of jobs and allow these businesses the chance to get back on their feet and recover.

Our businesses not only need the current rates relief to be extended beyond April 2021, with an announcement now, but full reform of this antiquated tax. Westminster alone collects £2 billion in tax annually which, based on business conditions that no longer exist, is entirely disproportionate to revenue.
Sir Peter Rogers, Chairman, New West End Company

Editor’s reply

Dear Sir Peter

Only Spinal Tap’s amps go up to 11, but I take your point. Business rates are a brutal tool to get tax revenues into councils starved of money from central government. Firms large and small have paid a crippling toll, particularly in London. Rishi Sunak was right to offer relief and must now reassure companies there will be some extension. But thriving businesses such as supermarkets should still pay their share. And we need reform so Amazon chips in, too.
Jim Armitage, Business Editor

It’s time to stop criticism of veils

In the pre-Covid era, Muslim women were subjected to endless criticism over the veil. Arguments ranged from not being able to communicate with us to it being contrary to integration. Covid has proved these to be false. I hope the post-Covid era will bring an end to laws preventing Muslim women from wearing the veil.
Maleeha Mansur

Source: Evening Standard Business News

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