FEARS have been raised over the future of small businesses in Winchester following hikes in business rates.

The change from April 2017 is down to the revaluation of property in Britain.

This is supposed to take place every seven years but the previous revaluation was delayed by the government in 2015 for two years.

Toby Roberts, who owns family-run business D+G Hardware on St Georges Street, said: “I think it’s insane we are paying £24,000. To me, business rates are fiercely unfair.

“It is about clawing more and more money out of little businesses rather than places like Amazon.”

This week The Earl of Sandwich on Jewry Street announced it will close down in June due to rent and rate increases.

They will continue to deliver food and drink.

In a sign posted on their shop window, they said: “As of March 3 we have fed Winchester with 1,925,423 sandwiches over the last 15 years.

“Katie, Dan and the team past and present would like to thank you for your support over the last 15 years and hope you will continue to love the Earl.”

Owner Daniel Gulliver said: “We are very sad to be going – it’s a shame.

“Our rent increase, which is a lot, is more than likely going to drive up the rates. There are so many businesses that have gone the same way, not even small ones.

“But we will still be in Winchester providing business lunches to the city and a sandwich van.”

The Extra went to press before yesterday’s budget, where the business rates system will be addressed by chancellor Philip Hammond.

Prior to the the speech, secretary of state for communities and local government Sajid Javid met experts who presented him with proposals for a £150 million fund to give relief to 100,000 small businesses.

facing the steepest increases.

In a statement issued to members, Winchester Business Improvement District (BID) said: “The revaluation of business properties rateable values and the revisions to business rates has given rise to turmoil.

“The press is full of anger from businesses facing increases of 100, 200 even 300 per cent% in their rates. Ministers promise solutions, but they are only likely to soften the transition.

“Winchester BID, working with the Southern Policy Centre, is hosting a breakfast seminar to help our members understand the facts. It will look at changes across Winchester and our near neighbours, examining the impact on different business sectors.

“Armed with this information and our members’ comments, ideas and suggestion, we will be keeping up the pressure on ministers for changes to the system. Not tinkering, but a proper look at how the system for business taxation can be fair, and how we can in future avoid the arbitrary changes businesses seem to be facing at the moment.”