A Norfolk livery yard has become one of the first casualties of the government’s hike in business rates.
Graham Camplin-Smith, who has run the business near Norwich since 2011, said spiralling costs had made the 21-box yard “no longer viable”.
“I was running the yard with myself and one groom and I was already worrying about the pension scheme coming in. They’re also pushing to get minimum wage up and I would struggle to pass those costs on to customers as it’s not a particularly well-off area,” said Mr Camplin-Smith, who was forced to wind the business up in February.
The rider, who also works as an Emmett muscle therapist and a performance coach, said he looked at options to make the business survive but the £7,250 rate rise had “sounded the death knell”.
He told H&H the closure had been hard on his liveries who had struggled to find vacancies at other yards.
“I understand other yards in the area have also closed recently, and all the spare stables in the area had been taken up,” he said.
Mr Camplin-Smith now fears the sharp increase in rates could damage the future of equestrianism because of the impact on riding schools.
“Riding schools who are already struggling are going to be penalised further and will be going out of business left, right and centre,” he said.
“If we don’t have riding schools, people will skip the experience as youngsters and will not be coming into equestrianism until they can afford it in their 30s and 40s — we’ll have a generation lacking expertise.
“It will only be the people with horsey families or a lot of money who have the opportunities.”
The rise in business rates comes into force on 1 April and is expected to take a severe toll on equestrian businesses, which are hit hard because of their high property values.
The BHS estimated that some riding schools and livery yards are facing increases of 180% and with a mammoth 365% in some cases in the southeast.
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The organisation has spearheaded a campaign against the hikes that is supported by all of the British Equestrian Federation’s member bodies.
The Countryside Alliance has also called on the government to “go back to the drawing board” over the changes