The first revaluation of business rates in seven years has given London-based telecoms companies huge increases in their tax bills, leaving less to spend on rural broadband and mobile connectivity.
Internet companies which have invested heavily in upgrading their networks since 2009 will now be forced to pay much higher business rates because infrastructure is taken into account when valuing properties.
It is reported that BT’s business rates bill will increase by 350 per cent, from £165m to £743m and Julian David, head of Tech UK, has said the changes will lead to higher bills for consumers and lower investment.
CLA Senior Rural Business Adviser and Economist Charles Trotman said:
“This business rate rise could add yet another barrier to improving rural connectivity by putting at risk telecoms companies’ investment in rural areas, particularly for mobile coverage. Delivery of better connectivity is already far too slow for those living and working in rural areas, and a reduction in investment would widen the existing digital divide between rural and urban areas. Government policy must be consistent in encouraging investment in rural connectivity, and we would urge them to reconsider this rate rise and the consequences for rural businesses.”
Suzanne Clear, Senior Planning and Rural Affairs Adviser at the NFU, commented:
“The NFU does not want to see farmers paying any additional costs as a result of these changes – especially when they pay a lot more for broadband anyway.”