Westminster City Council leader Sir Simon Milton this week criticised plans to allow the London mayor to impose a tax on London businesses to pay for Crossrail.

Speaking on Wednesday (31 October) at the launch of the New West End Business Company’s business plan to 2013, Milton said allowing the mayor to levy a supplementary business charge on businesses in the capital from April 2010 would be unfair to those in Business Improvement Districts.

Futures at risk
He said members of London’s Business Improvement Districts – the Paddington BID, the Heart of London Business Alliance and the New West End Company – could have their futures put at risk with the Crossrail charge on top of what they pay in BIDs.

‘I believe that it’s wrong that businesses that have volunteered to pay, in effect, an additional tax and then have to pay an additional tax on that,’ said Milton.

A Treasury white paper published in October confirmed it is planning to allow local authorities to levy a supplementary business rate to pay for Crossrail from April 2010.

The mayor has confirmed a 2% supplementary business rates levy will be made to businesses in London with a rateable value of more than £50,000. It is estimated that 9,000 - or 30% - of businesses in Westminster will be eligible to pay the levy.

John Ross, director of economic and business policy at the Greater London Authority, said businesses would be expected to contribute to the £13bn Crossrail project.

‘You’re going to have something twice the capacity of the Jubilee Line running under Oxford Street and the claim that they don’t benefit from that cannot be taken seriously. They’ve got to contribute to Crossrail, that’s obvious,’ said Ross.