from John Bowden, Wholesale Confectionery & Tobacco Alliance

Sir; The sharp rise in business rates announced by deputy prime minister John Prescott will put the future of small businesses on the line.
They already have a higher proportion of fixed costs than multiples without the government increasing prices. This could tip the balance between profit and closure.
The £1.6bn hike in rates imposed by Prescott’s department will put further pressure on the embattled independents. Small independent retailers have no way to recover these costs, absorbing them into margins.
This is a cost easily borne by multiples, but severely detrimental to the independents and the quality of communities who are reliant on them.
It is strange that, at a time when half the Labour government are discussing their plans for sustainable communities, this measure is destroying the social cohesion that local entrepreneurs bring to their localities.