MP welcomes steps taken on business rates

Matt Warman MP
Matt Warman MP

Boston and Skegness MP Matt Warman has welcomed Government action on business rates after a court ruling meant previously exempt agricultural premises and land were put at risk of high bills.

On Tuesday, Parliament debated the Non-Domestic Rating (Nursery Grounds) Bill – a document which will legislate to provide exemptions from business rates for buildings which are, or form part of, a nursery ground.

Mr Warman highlighted the impact that a high, unexpected rates bill would have in his constituency on agricultural businesses in his constituency, but also on drainage boards through a special levy which helps pay for their operation.

Concern had been raised with Mr Warman by the Black Sluice Internal Drainage Board and by brassica growers R. Fountain & Son; both faced large financial implications as a result of a Court of Appeal decision which found business rates exemptions to be an incorrect application of the law.

He said: “I hope that Members will bear in mind that the Bill represents a useful endeavour to fix a problem that would have had a real impact not only on the local economy and jobs in my constituency, but on the availability of cabbages throughout the country, about which I know the House cares deeply.”

The Bill passed its Second Reading – a midway point in the law-making process – without division.

After the debate, Mr Warman added: “I am delighted that my colleagues in Government have listened to feedback from business across the country, who were rightly concerned that they could be billed large sums for something from which they should be exempt, and acted swiftly to clarify the law on this matter to safeguard them from these costs.

“Agriculture is a key sector in Boston and Skegness and we want to support it in every possible way so that it can continue to provide both fresh produce and local jobs, as well as ensure that the drainage boards have the money they need to protect the area from flooding.”