Norfolk businesses want to see rates system fixed
Commenting on the Conservative Party Manifesto, Nova Fairbank, Public Affairs Manager at Norfolk Chamber said:
“A number of the headline commitments in the Conservative Party’s manifesto will be welcomed by the Norfolk business community. If delivered, pledges to overhaul the broken business rates system, to deliver better digital and mobile connectivity, and to focus more systematically on unlocking the growth potential of our city and towns, would respond to some of the key concerns of the business communities we represent.
On fixing the business rates system, Paul McCarthy, Chamber Board member said:
“The Norfolk business community wants both a clear commitment and then action to create the best possible conditions for economic growth. To give local businesses the confidence to drive investment and jobs growth, Chamber members want to see any future government commit to no new ‘up-front’ taxes on business for the duration of the next Parliament. In particular business rates, the ‘fixed’ property tax in an increasingly online world, are in dire need for reform as research shows that they are a barrier to investment and the jobs that that then brings.”
On the need for more reliable mobile coverage, Neil Orford, President of Great Yarmouth Chamber Council and Partner at Lovewell Blake said:
“Nearly every Norfolk business person can give examples of the difficulties they have faced when trying to make business calls on their mobiles. We all know of local dead spots in and around commercial and residential areas and try to plan our mobile business calls accordingly. If we wish to be seen as a place to do business, we must continue to press for improvement in the service provided.”
On the need to provide more access to superfast broadband, Lynsey Sweales, Director of Social B said:
“A reliable broadband connection is absolutely vital for all companies, yet 20% of Norfolk companies suffer from unreliable connections. The recent BCC survey shows that firms in rural areas are at least twice as likely to have unreliable connections as those in towns. The focus of any future government must be on providing businesses with sufficient and reliable broadband connections to enable to them to do business confidently. Having a business in a rural location shouldn’t mean you sacrifice market opportunities, businesses operating in Norfolk as well as businesses looking to invest and trade with Norfolk businesses need broadband confidence to do business”
Ms Fairbank also sounded a note of caution by saying that positive business reception to some elements of the manifesto will be tempered by proposals that would increase up-front costs, regulatory obligations and uncertainty for businesses. The Conservatives’ proposed approach to immigration, at a time when many firms are already doing everything they can to train up and employ UK workers, will worry companies of every size and sector.