Some days seem to have a theme to them.
This morning, your contributor went to post a parcel, and,
as usual, chatted for a few minutes with the sub-postmaster – one of a dying breed
in the UK.
This admirable man has managed to compensate for the decline
in postal services by expanding his shop to sell other products.
His reward is a massively increased bill for rates –
property taxes that in Britain are now only levied on places of business.
“I don’t know why I bother,” he said.
He has often said that over the years, but now his hair is
grey, and income is decreasing at the very time that fixed costs – the rates
most of all – are increasing. He cannot see things getting better.
He is the classic hard-working immigrant who has made money
out of a marginal business through long hours and enterprise. If he decides to
retire, it is unlikely that anyone else could be found who was willing and able
to do the same. The economy would lose another otherwise viable business, and
the local community would lose a valuable facility and social centre.
This afternoon, your contributor read a piece
on the same subject in Management Today,
after a recommendation from reader Martin – please keep the recommendations
coming, by the way.
It is no exaggeration to say that, within the British small
business community, business rate rises are the subject of as much complaint
and concern as the recession.
Shop-owners in particular are asking, “Why bother?”
Politicians do not care – it is a tax that it is
conveniently hidden from most voters. The media – who publicise the
politicians’ promises to “help” business without criticism or analysis – do not
Yet unless someone begins to care, tens of thousands of
otherwise viable businesses will close – and they will not reopen, or be
replaced, even after the recession ends.