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Business rates: how the changes could affect you

Photo: ITV West Country

Traders in towns across the South West are warning they'll have to increase prices for customers- after being landed with rate rises of more than 60%.

What are business rates?

Business Rates are a tax on business properties which is set by the government and are based on the market rental value of the property.

What's going to change?

The government has overhauled business rates for the first time in seven years.

In April, business premises are set to be revalued.

Rates will fluctuate depending on these new valuations - so in any area where property values have increased, businesses will pay more tax.

The review of how much business pay in rates is supposed to make the system fairer.

Who's set to benefit?

73% of businesses are going to see their rates cut - and the Government has also promised to try to help those minority of companies that will see a rate rise.

In Yeovil, business owners we spoke to are optimistic about the future.

These three business owners in Yeovil are all expecting the new business rates will be better for them. Credit: ITV West Country

Ryan Edwards owns a printing business - last year he paid £3000, next year he expects it to be nothing, thanks to a higher level or rates relief.

Jason Livingstone from Yeovil Chamber of Commerce says they've been waiting for the revaluation for seven years but still feels independent businesses are losing out.

Who could lose out?

The hike highlights the discrepancy between physical businesses and those that are online, or which have out-of-town warehouses benefitting from low rates.

There are concerns that rises in business rates will kill off a third of independent shops - and be particularly hard on rural businesses where the area's average property value may have increased significantly.

One of the seaside towns bearing the brunt of the price hike is St Ives - where some shopkeepers say they'll be forced out of business.

Credit: ITV West Country

Colin Nicholls has had a shop on St Ives high street for last 50 years.

The retailer has seen many ups and downs in his time but says this latest hike in business rates could spell disaster for the town

It is going to destroy the High Street, and they need to do something about it, not sometime but immediately, to make sure we have a job to go to in the morning.

– Colin Nicholls
Credit: ITV West Country

It's a similar story at a Fish and Chip shop near the harbour. It's facing a 60% increase in rates - and the owner says it'll be the customers that are hit the hardest.

St Ives is not a wealthy town. Yes, there a lot of second home owners but we still have a massive number of local people who are employed in seasonal jobs... they are on very low pay so if we are to put our prices up it will directly affect their pocket.

– NEIL WHITHAM

These are concerns echoed across many rural communities.

Cornwall Chamber of Commerce says its been inundated with calls from businesses all over the county - worried they'll go under.

You can't just find several thousand pounds in a small business without having a really serious impact.

Others will find ways to cut costs but that will mean not giving people wage increases.

– Kim Conchie, Cornwall Chamber of Commerce

What's being done to help?

The Communities Secretary Sajid Javid has said businesses facing steep rate rises will get some help in the Budget.

We sent our political correspondent to ask him for more details about what kind of form this help will take.

Are you reassured by his answer?