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Small businesses call for 'living commercial rents'

Stoke Newington Church Street where rents have been increasing significantly

Small business owners in London’s East End are calling for a ‘living business rent’ similar to the living wage to protect against relentless rent rises.

The idea was put forward by the East End Trades Guild this month in a bid to stop big corporates encroaching on the city as spiralling rents force smaller firms out.

A Bastille Day event to commemorate a year of lobbying for business rate caps heard that shops and small enterprises in fringe city neighbourhoods face crippling rent rises.

Hackney Mayor Philip Glanville promised to: “fight the corner for small businesses”, which he said: “play a crucial role that is fundamental to our high streets and town centres, to thrive and create aspiration and job opportunities in our community.”

11,000 people signed a petition ahead of the budget, calling on the Government to tackle unfair rents and rates revaluations.

The Local Buyers Club has heard from some East London businesses which faced a 15 per cent rent rise this year.

Heidi Early, of Earlybird Cards on Stoke Newington’s Church Street, said: “I read recently that high streets populated with thriving independent businesses boost the prices of nearby homes. This is so true of Stoke Newington, people live here because they love Church Street, and yet business rates and rent hikes are likely to change the face of the street.

“As a small business we pay our fair amount of tax, we can't afford to pay accountants for elaborate tax avoidance schemes. We employ staff who live locally, and for every £1 spent in our business 63p goes back into the local economy, compared with 40p if the money was spent in a large company.

“Three small businesses closed within the first month of 2017 on this street alone - these are very real warning signs.”


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