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Butcher's beef over tax hikes

PUBLISHED: 17:58 01 April 2009 | UPDATED: 11:30 12 August 2010

STRUGGLE: Steven Andrews

STRUGGLE: Steven Andrews

TAX rises will turn high streets into ghost towns, traders have warned. Steven Andrews, owner of Downham Family Butchers, in Downham Way, said that it would be a struggle to survive this year after the government put business rates up by five per cent.

TAX rises will turn high streets into ghost towns, traders have warned.

Steven Andrews, owner of Downham Family Butchers, in Downham Way, said that it would be a struggle to survive this year after the government put business rates up by five per cent.

Bromley businesses will on average have to pay an extra £563 a year in rates, taking the government's annual slice up to £11,819.

Mr Andrews, 40, said: "In the current economic situation this tax hike is making my life even harder.

"I was already struggling last year without this to deal with."

The traditional trader's 30 per cent profit margin will be squeezed this year along with the borough's 7,000 other businesses.

Businesses in Greenwich are set to pay an extra £506 a year, bringing the average annual rates bill to £10,616.

Bexley's 5,200 businesses will need to pay another £584, taking their average annual bill up to £12,261.

Mr Andrews added: "I think I'll be alright this year but I know it's having an effect elsewhere.

"Along Burnt Ash Lane I've seen four shops close and estate agents seem to keep disappearing too."

Bromley and Chislehurst MP Bob Neill slammed the government for raising business rates by five per cent as the recession bites, warning it will create 'ghost towns'.

He said: "Gordon Brown is dragging local firms down his road to ruin. It is the height of economic madness to be increasing taxes on local firms in the depths of a recession.

"Local shops in Bromley will be hardest hit by theses rises, leading to boarded up shops on our high street and yet more job losses."

The Local Government Association has warned that four out of five councils have reported an increase in empty shops in town centres.

jules.cooper@archant.co.uk

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