§ Sir John Farr
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) what representations he has received concerning the effect of the uniform business rate on rural post offices; and if he will make a statement;
(2) if he will make it his policy to provide relief from the uniform business rate for community post offices.
§ Mr. Key
We have received a number of representations on this subject, and a Post Office survey has shown a varied effect on rates bills for this type of property. Some sub-postmasters have stated that they are better off under the new arrangements.
We do not propose to give rate relief to "community" post offices. Such property is rateable only to the extent that the non-domestic use prevents part of it from being used wholly for the purposes of living accommodation at some time during the day. In view of concerns expressed about the rating of "community" post offices, valuation officers have checked the assessment of these properties.
From 1 April this year, we have also improved the transitional arrangements for properties in mixed domestic and commercial use to limit year-on-year rates increases to 10 per cent. in real terms; this will benefit many rural post offices.