NHS hospitals and GP surgeries in England and Wales face a massive £635 million hike in their business rates by the May government over the next five years.
The country’s biggest hospitals will see their business rates double amid warnings that they will have to find further savings to fill black holes in their budgets. The NHS is to be penalised as a ‘business’ when it is a vital life-saving service. It is to be bankrupted while ‘new’ rapacious business interests who function through the internet and disregard workers’ rights will see their business rates slashed!
Nine Amazon distribution centres in England and Wales will see a £148,000 reduction in property tax this year – a 1.3 per cent fall in its rates bill for 2017/18, according to CVS, the business rent and rates specialists.
Internet fashion store Boohoo’s rateable value, on which the bill is based, will fall by 13 per cent from April on its distribution centre in Burnley, Lancashire; clothing retailer Asos’s warehouse in Barnsley, South Yorkshire, will see no change.
By comparison, High Street independents will experience tax hikes of up to 300 per cent. They say this could force them to close, and will give online shops and businesses a further huge advantage.
The NHS is to be crushed while the Amazons and the Ubers with their low rateable value, on-line trading and opposition to workers’ rights are to be enriched. Many health authorities will have to pay millions more including Peterborough City Hospital, which will see rates rise from £2.5 million to £4.8 million by 2021, while the University Hospital Birmingham NHS Trust’s bill is set to rise from £4.2 million to £7.6 million.
Royal London Hospital in East London will see its bill rise by nearly 60 per cent to £9.7million. Peterborough and Stamford Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said that rising business rates mean that it needs to put ‘additional cost efficiencies in place’ on top of existing savings.
Jerry Schurder of Gerald Eve, a firm which advises companies and public sector bodies on rates, said: ‘At a time when the NHS is under huge budgetary pressures, these rises in business rates liabilities highlight just how punitive the system has become and will be a cause of real concern for those tasked with delivering hospital and clinic services.’
Sally Gainsbury, a senior policy analyst at the Nuffield Trust think tank, said: ‘Hospitals are currently overspending at a rate of between £150 million and £250 million a month. They will struggle to absorb an extra hit like this – the NHS is already in severe financial difficulties. When a hospital has to cut costs, it doesn’t take long before they end up having to look at their staffing numbers, at doctors and nurses. They will be rushing around having to treat more and more patients.’
A government spokesman said: ‘All properties, including hospitals, have their rateable values set independently by the Valuation Office Agency and taxpayers have the right to appeal the VOA’s valuation. This revaluation improves the fairness of rate bills by making sure they more closely reflect the property market.’
The NHS is now part of the property market and there are many big NHS ‘properties’ that big business wants to get its hands on! There is clearly a war taking place on the NHS. Meanwhile the Rowntree Foundation has found that in 2014-15, 19 million people were living on less than the Minimum Income Standard (MIS). It said the problem was that household costs have been rising, while incomes have stagnated.
Among the 19 million said to be below the MIS are six million children, representing 45% of all children in Britain. There are also 1.8 million pensioners, representing 14.6% of the age group.
The figures are up from 15 million, or 25% of the population, six years previously.
The issues are clear. The May government trapped in a major crisis of the capitalist system is seeking to bail capital out by bankrupting the NHS and pauperising the working class, returning them if they are allowed to do so to the early years of the 20th century.
The seven million UK trade unionists must, through their organisations, move into action and take up the gauntlet that the Tories have just thrown down! The TUC must be recalled, and the present May-loving corporatist leadership must be sacked. It must be replaced by a new leadership that will show its determination to defeat the Tories and the bosses, by calling an indefinite general strike to bring down the May government and bring in a workers government and socialism.
Among its first actions will be the nationalisation of the banks and the drug companies to liberate the NHS from the grip of capitalism.