From a news point of view Jayraj Acharya couldn't have picked a better time to ring. It was March 30. "The council says my rates bill has gone from £5,000 to £9,000," he told me, "and there is no transitional relief."

The following day the government did a U-turn, delaying the 5% hike in business rates in England. Commercial premises will now have to pay a 2% increase for 2009-10 with the other 3% spread over the following two years.

The abolition of transitional relief, however, remains in place.

Jayraj predicts many will go bust. "I'm at the Olympia end of Kensington High Street and already WH Smith has closed, Prêt à Manger has gone, and Subway and Ericsson."

He had been considering writing to his MP Malcolm Rifkind and I think this is a very good idea. All of you should write to your MPs. Keep up the pressure. The public sector got a salary rise last year. I don't suppose you did.

And there can be no better time to warn, yet again, about bogus business rates companies. Yes, they will be out there, especially now. They will phone you up and promise to charge you nothing until your appeal is accepted.

All you need to know is that all appeals are accepted. For the price of a postage stamp you can appeal. Also remember that if you invite scrutiny, then your business rates, which should reflect the local picture, can go up as well as down.

And if you do decide you need professional help then ring RICS (the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) on 0870 333 1600. RICS has 120,000 members in 146 countries who pledge to operate to a code of practice. If you call the above number they will put you in touch with one of their members local to you who will give you a free half-hour consultation on the phone.

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