In response to Prime Minister's Questions today where Prime Minister Tony Blair defended the increase in the Small Companies Rate from 19 - 22 per cent, Sally Low, Director of External Affairs and Policy at the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) said:

"The Prime Minister's defence of the increase in the Small Companies Rate failed to address the concern of SME's who make up the majority of the UK business community.

"A post-Budget survey by Populus undertaken on behalf of the British Chambers of Commerce has revealed that 71% of UK businesses think the rise will harm their business. 

"This shows how worrying the Chancellor's actions are for SME's across the country . The BCC believes that the rise will make life even more difficult for small businesses.

"Many will struggle to absorb the increased cost of this burden which is likely to have a negative impact on their growth."