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Good News For Port Based Employers

Dated 27th May 2010

Subject: Good News For Port Based Employers


LOCAL MP. Gordon Henderson, says that he is delighted the new Lib-Con Coalition Government has acted swiftly to ease the burden on hard pressed companies operating out of the Port of Sheerness by suspending the backdated business rates payments that were threatening their financial stability.


Emergency regulations are being introduced today to put a halt on demands for unfair, retrospective business rate payments affecting ports, announced Communities and Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles.


Many ports companies in the South East have been facing huge backdated business rates bills reaching into the millions after changes to the way rates were calculated in 2008 by the Valuation Office Agency.


As an urgent first step, the new regulations will suspend unexpected backdated business rate payments, including for port companies, giving a lifeline to struggling firms and supporting a vital part of Britain’s manufacturing industry.


The payment freeze will be funded from the £6billion public sector savings announced by the Chief Secretary on Monday. In addition, the Government will pledge to continue to explore options up to and including primary legislation to offer ports companies permanent relief from backdated bills.


Mr Henderson explained:


“We pressed the previous government to scrap the unfair backdating of business rates but our pleas fell on deaf ears.


“Businesses in the Port of Sheerness were particularly hard hit with companies facing rates bills of over £4 million.

“If this retrospective payment had been enforced I am convinced that many people would have lost their jobs and that would have been a disaster for our community.


“The port is very important to Sheppey’s economy so I am delighted that the new Government has made helping pressed port based businesses one of its first acts.”


Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Eric Pickles, said:


“Backdated port taxes levied on a vital part of Britain's export industry have left many businesses unfairly facing hefty bills, reaching into the millions in some cases.


“Today I am introducing a suspension of the collection of this ports tax grab, offering immediate help to firms struggling because of this unfair, unjust tax.


“I will not allow Government to idly look on any longer as vital businesses in the South East stare into the face of insolvency as a result of the ports tax, and today we're making good on our promise to act.


"We are clear we should be supporting the economy not forcing people out of business.


Local Government Minister Bob Neill added:


"It is vital to the nation that we set things right and stop this nonsensical situation affecting the livelihoods of thousands.


“This payments freeze is an urgent first step that will mean struggling firms have one less thing to worry about in these difficult times, and we will continue to work towards a sensible and fair long term solution. “