The number of small businesses and people becoming self-employed continues to increase but there could be tough times ahead for the smallest companies as increases to business rates and ever increasing utility bills mean finances could be stretched. While businesses were prepared for increases in the rates, the amount has come as a surprise and comes at a time when gas and electricity bills are also starting to rise again.
Situation in the capital
Around three-quarters of companies in London say that the increase in business rates is one of the biggest challenges they face in the coming year. the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) say that the capital is in serious danger of looking the ‘vital support system for micro and small businesses’’ – companies that employ fewer than 10 people but are looking at paying £17,000 a year for business rates from next month.
The change to the business rates stems from a revaluation of property across the UK. This is meant to take place every five years but was delayed by the government in 2015 for two years. The result is that the increase is more pronounced than it likely would have been as the adjusted is for seven years, not the normal five years. Four in ten businesses in London, for example, are expecting to see a rise of more than 20% while three in ten still had no clear idea of how much more they would be paying come April.
Managing the costs of business
While the cost of business rates isn’t something that businesses can do anything about, there are other business costs than can be managed to get under control. Top of the list of these is the price of utility bills, which look set to rise this year by around 5% according to experts.
By ringing the British Gas business phone number, for example, businesses can check the tariff that they currently receive and see if there are any cheaper options, just as residential customers can do. You will need some details about your current energy usage but this should be available from existing bills. Check to see if your existing provider or tariff will charge to swap if you are in the middle of a contract and use this figure in your workings to see what is the best deal.
Some of the tariffs do require that the business provides monthly meter readings to get the best price. This does have an added benefit in that bills are accurate, rather than estimated and you pay only for the power that you use. Again, using the same example, there is a British Gas meter reading phone number that you can ring to submit these readings.
There may not be much that can be done about the business rates changes – although there are plenty of people trying to argue the new rates. But by getting control of the gas and electricity bill, businesses can at least help offset the cost somewhat.