THERE have been some extraordinary anomalies that have arisen in the implementation of the government’s business grants scheme here in Swanage

There are nine pubs in Swanage, all of which are privately operated family businesses. Three pubs have received £10,000, three have received 25,000 and three, the largest, have received nothing.

It surely cannot have been the government’s plan to exclude the businesses that make the greatest yearly contribution to government funds (hundreds of thousands of pounds each in VAT, tax, national insurance contributions and business rates) from government grant assistance

Dozens of micro businesses (small shops, individual holiday letting units, store rooms and workshops) have received grants of £10,000 and dozens of not for profit “businesses” including sports clubs and even village halls have received £10,000 or even £25,000 grants from Dorset Council and don’t even pay business rates in any year let alone employ any staff.

This comes about because the government has used the completely arbitrary £51,000 rateable value threshold as the dividing line between huge government assistance and zero . This figure derives from the 2005 introduction of small business rate relief and introduced a tiny differential of 1.2p in the pound on business rates payable between “small” and “large” businesses. This figure has never been updated by inflation, unlike the rates chargeable which updates every year by RPI (retail prices index).

By no definition (including the government’s own definition in the subsequent discretionary grant funds allocated to councils) are the three larger pubs in Swanage referred to above “large” businesses

The government should review this situation as a matter of urgency given that the pubs, restaurants and hotels occupying premises with rateable values greater than £51,000 are currently suffering the most acute financial crisis in the hospitality industry


The Globe, Bell Street, Swanage