Business rates are based on valuations carried out independently of Ministers by the Valuation Office Agency. My hon. Friend may be reassured to know that the change in average business rates in Dover is largely a consequence of the significant increase in the rateable value of the English side of the channel tunnel.
I thank my right hon. Friend for that very helpful answer. Can he confirm that leaving aside the channel tunnel, which has done very well in recent years and has gone up an awful lot in value, business rates across the Dover district as a whole are down 8%? Will he also look at the case of small businesses and transitional relief as they leave business rate relief?
I can tell my hon. Friend that as a result of the recent revaluation, the English side of the channel tunnel has seen its rateable value more than double to £35 million, which accounts for roughly a third of the local ratings list. If this were excluded, average rateable values in my hon. Friend’s local authority would fall in line with those in the rest of Kent.
It is not just the Dover district that is having these problems but businesses up and down the country, particularly in London and the south-east. I met small businesses in Hackney—not that far from Dover—on Friday. The reality surely is that the system is bust and that small businesses with a small turnover are being hit with huge and unsustainable bills, so what is the Secretary of State going to do to make life better for businesses in Dover, Hackney and around the country?
I think the hon. Lady deserves an answer to that, Mr Speaker. First, transitional relief is in place—it is worth some £3.6 billion—to help businesses across the board, including smaller businesses. Secondly, the extension of small business rate relief will mean that 600,000 companies will pay zero in business rates from April this year. I am sure that the hon. Lady would join me in welcoming that.