PLANS to backdate millions of pounds of business taxes for riverside companies could soon be scrapped, following a crucial House of Lords decision.
Peers threw Merseyside’s docklands a lifeline by voting to amend a Bill which could stop the Government making firms bear the burden of its own errors in calculating the rates they owe.
Officials were warned hundreds of riverside businesses could go under if they did not give in to pressure to scrap the controversial backdating plans.
Businesses, MPs and councils estimated up to £3bn of investment and 3,000 jobs could be lost in Liverpool if the hikes go ahead.
But, this week, an amendment to the Business Rates Supplements Bill – jointly drafted by the Mersey and Humber Docks Ratings Groups – was passed by 184 to 124 votes.
The amendment means in the future, businesses will not suffer at the hands of the government’s miscalculations.
Mersey Maritime business development direction Dave Pendleton said the vote was a step closer to saving many businesses which may otherwise end up dead in the water.
He said if the Government could be persuaded, the amendment could be applied to the current “statutory instrument” to wipe out the backdated debt currently owed by waterfront firms.
Mr Pendleton said previous concessions offered by the Government would not have saved companies.
He said: “We were pleading with the Government to sort it out and they came back with the option of paying the back-dated bill over eight years, interest free.
“But the Lords said they did not think it would work and businesses would still suffer.
“There is still some lobbying to be done, but the Lords’ vote gives the Government the vehicle to make the changes.”
Mr Pendleton added it was hoped that the new secretary of state for local government, John Denham MP, would allow the changes through without another debate in the Commons.