Small businesses have financed the Government and have helped local councils pull up many rundown areas by their bootstraps. But precisely where these partners have succeeded, they are being pilloried by this Government.
Instead of fiscal sympathy in an economic downturn for those who have successfully regenerated their areas, they have bitten the hand that feeds them. Business rates have climbed into the stratosphere with retailers the hardest hit.
Soon the prosperous tomorrow will be replaced by rows of steel shuttered parades in your ward and wards across the country. For in truth there is precious little many local councils can do, though Wandsworth is proposing a hardship contribution for the hardest hit.
This blight is largely made at the centre with its demand for uniformity in business rates throughout England and Wales.
Businesses with a potentially prosperous tomorrow and “indigenous” businesses alike within these areas are hit.
In my ward, a launderette on St John’s Hill has seen its net business rate skyrocket. Its proprietor for 30-odd years says his margins are so tight it will have to close. The clientele is mainly working class. Where will these people go then?
The answer must be local accountability. The setting of local business rates must return to local control. The quality of local council policy and administration has improved since the early 1980s. It must be given a chance to shine here.