Care homes (and consumers) are facing higher bills for their telephone and internet services after some of the country’s biggest providers were hit by major increases in their business rates today.
Figures published this morning by the Valuation Office Agency show the proposed new rates for thousands of businesses across the UK, which will come into effect from April.
One of the biggest increases in rateable values is British Telecom, whose business rates bill for England and Wales will jump from £149m to £714m next year, although for technical reasons the company will only have to pay around half of the final amount.
“We are extremely disappointed by the new rateable values that have been published today and which are clearly excessive,” it added.
It warned that if the proposed new rates are brought in, “it could have a negative impact on future investment in the network”.
Tom Mockridge, chief executive of Virgin Media, whose rates quadrupled in today’s announcement, said: “The Chancellor Philip Hammond is choosing to side-step responsibility for a huge increase in infrastructure taxes at the very moment after the Brexit vote the UK needs to maximise investment into its digital fibre network.”
Offices in the City of London and the capital’s prime retail streets were also hit particularly hard by the new rates set out today, with a typical store on Regent Street seeing its rates increase 50pc.
London’s business rates bill will increase by an average of 11pc, and the ‘central rating list’, which contains major network properties such as gas, water, electricity distribution, telecoms and the railways, will increase by 28pc.
Businesses were dealt a blow on Wednesday when the Government announced that the transitional relief scheme, which will help companies phase in the increases in bills, would not be as generous for large firms as first thought.
Instead of a 12.5pc cap for increases in the first year, the cap for businesses with bills of more than £100,000 is now likely to be 45pc.
Today’s figures showed that in the City of London, a typical new office building will see its bill jump from £522,000 a year to £550,000 a year, an increase of 5pc. However, for refurbished buildings, the bill will jump from £240,000 to £321,000, a jump of 34pc.
Neil McManus of GHM Communications says: “Care homes looking to mitigate the impact of higher telephone bills can take advantage of free calls with GHM – we offer free National, local and mobile calls with all new business telephone systems. This equates to huge savings for most of our new customers. Hosted telephone systems are also another way to reduce the costs of a business telephone system. Having a landline isn’t the most cost effective choice and is often completely unnecessary.
“We advise any care home faced with increasing telephone costs to get in touch so we can advise the best way to avoid the increases and in many circumstances actually reduce their costs.”