Mixed fortunes and trouble ahead after changes to Ludlow’s business rates

Last year, the government revalued all 1.96 million non-domestic properties in England and Wales.[1] In England, rateable values will be increased by an average of 10% from 1 April 2017. Across Shropshire, they are going up 13%. And here in Ludlow rateable values are going up by an eyewatering 37%, nearly four times the national average.[2]

This does not bode well for the future of local businesses, though in the short term there is more good news than bad. Over the next five years increases in business rates will be reduced by a complex series of reliefs and changes to the way that business rates are calculated.[3]

In the year from April, Ludlow businesses will pay a total of £300,000 less in business rates compared to this year. Nearly 400 businesses will pay no rates at all over the next five years. It’s not such good news for the 200 businesses that do pay rates. By 2021/22, they will be paying £385,000 extra, an increase of 11%.[4] Most of these businesses are in the vital retail sector.

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Gender pay gap widens in Ludlow area as women’s wages fall

New data released by the Office of National Statistics today show a general improvement in wages across the south of Shropshire. But women’s wages are falling.

Men’s pay has gone up. Women’s pay has gone down. Men in the Ludlow area earn about £2 an hour above the national average. Women work for a rate that is around £2 below the national average.

The gender pay gap is reducing nationally, albeit slowly, but here in the Ludlow constituency it is widening.

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Ludford Bridge update – repair work delayed – bridge may be closed for May bank holiday weekend

There is an air of excitement around Ludlow. The May Fair rolls in on Wednesday night. It is the highlight of the year for many people in the town. The arrival of the fair means the town centre will be closed from Thursday to Monday – High Street, the Market area and the top of Mill Street.

But there is bad news from the crew repairing Ludford Bridge. Work will not be finished before next weekend as planned. That could mean the bridge is closed over one of the busiest weekends in Ludlow’s calendar.

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Shropshire is well behind in broadband rollout – we can’t continue to be a #broadbad county

We can no longer use the excuse that it is difficult to install broadband across Shropshire because we are a rural county. Most rural areas are doing much better than we are. It is the failure of Shropshire Council to invest in broadband that lies at the heart of the problem.

A few weeks back, Patrick Cosgrove, Shropshire’s indomitable broadband campaigner, circulated some interesting data in his newsletter. I’ve drawn up a graph of the data and it is quite a shocker. Only 24 out of 321 local authorities (7%) have worse fibre broadband coverage than Shropshire.[1]

Broadband_fibre_Dec_2015_by_district

Continue reading “Shropshire is well behind in broadband rollout – we can’t continue to be a #broadbad county”

Unemployment in Ludlow area falls again but wages still low

Unemployment in the Ludlow constituency is still falling, bucking the national picture where unemployment crept upwards in May. But local wages still trail behind and are only nine-tenths of national wages.

Unemployment drops…

The number of people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance, or not in work and claiming Universal Credit, in the Ludlow parliamentary constituency fell from 408 people in May to 382 in June. The claimant rate is now just 1%, two-fifths of the national rate of 2.5%. This is very good news. Unemployment in the constituency, as measured by Jobseekers claimants, has fallen by 67% since the height of the recession in February 2013. Continue reading “Unemployment in Ludlow area falls again but wages still low”