It may be due to the downturn in the economy or the fact that the government needs money, but across the country, if they haven't already, councils are introducing a tax on cafes, pub or restaurants who wish to put outdoor seating on the streets. This change has been met with great concern by smaller businesses, as some a finding that they just simply cannot afford the fees.
Cheshire East Council introduced these changes last year, but the small business owners that were forced to pay these fees would not take this lying down. For most small cafes, pubs and restaurants, having outdoor furniture, cafe tables and cafe chairs outside is an important part of their business. Not only do the areas provide extra seating, which in some cases can double the amount of seating available, but to have people eating or drinking outside provides a form of advertisement for the business and encourages people to come in.
From this backlash, Cheshire East Council have revised their chair tax policy, making it more affordable for smaller independent businesses to compete with the larger chains. Traders can choose between less than or more than 6 months as opposed to the previous 12 month deal. Not only this but there are different price bands now available for companies who have less cafe furniture, for example, there will be a different charge for little cafes and shops who have 6 cafe chairs or less, 7-12 seats or more than 12 seats. Originally, cafe owners were ordered to pay £550 if they had more than 4 chairs outside and a further £330 for an annual renewal. This price has now dropped dramatically to try and help the small businesses to flourish in the hard economy. Typically cafe owners will now have to pay £150 and £100 annually for those who have up to 6 chairs. Hopefully within time we will see this new change up and down the country as councils help smaller businesses to survive in what seems like a bleak financial climate.