Amulet Boutique in Bristol closes after rates overcharge

Amulet on Cotham Hill
Image caption Hemali Modha has closed her clothes and accessories shop after being charged far more in rates than neighbouring businesses

A boutique owner who was overcharged thousands of pounds in business rates for years has closed her shop.

Hemali Modha made the discovery last year after talking to neighbouring shop-owners on Cotham Hill, Bristol.

After she complained, the rates for Amulet Boutique were reduced from £3,955 a year to £334 a year.

Ms Modha is due to receive a refund dating back to 1 April 2017 but said she has lost more than £20,000 and is unlikely to get any of that back.

'Really struggling'

"When I think about what I could have done with that money to boost my business... well, it makes me quite angry and deeply disappointed in the system," she said.

A spokesperson from Bristol City Council said business rates were "based on the individual circumstances of a commercial property" and were "periodically revalued" by the Valuation Office Agency (VOA).

The last evaluation for Ms Modha's business premises was on 1 April 2017.

The council said any request to change the rateable value before this date required the business owner to contact the VOA directly to request a review.

"It is not a decision the council can make," the spokesperson said.

Ms Modha said the system needed to change as the "High Street is really struggling and retailers face enough challenges as it is without being overcharged by the local councils which are supposed to be supporting us".

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