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Shops, pubs, cafes and restaurants could benefit

PUBLISHED: 16:48 30 January 2019 | UPDATED: 17:26 30 January 2019

Ipswich Street in Stowmarket town centre Picture: MARK LANGFORD

Ipswich Street in Stowmarket town centre Picture: MARK LANGFORD

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Hundreds of small Suffolk businesses could be about to get a rate relief boost in a move designed to support the High Street.

John Whitehead, Mid Suffolk District Council cabinet member for finance
Picture: PAUL NIXONJohn Whitehead, Mid Suffolk District Council cabinet member for finance Picture: PAUL NIXON

The cabinets of Mid Suffolk and Babergh district councils meet next week and look set to back a new discretionary business rate reduction scheme - which could mean one third off bills for retail and other businesses across the two districts.

Shops, cafes, pubs and many more independent businesses could benefit under the Government-backed scheme, including those in Stowmarket and Sudbury, Needham Market and Hadleigh.

The range of small businesses which could benefit is wide, ranging from butchers, bakers and greengrocers to opticians and car sales, hair and beauty, cafes, restaurants and takeaways.

However financial institutions, such as banks, building societies, as well as estate agents and medical services, would not qualify.

Jane Haylock of Idler Books in Hadleigh holds one of her chosen books at the shop.Jane Haylock of Idler Books in Hadleigh holds one of her chosen books at the shop.

Councillor John Whitehead, Mid Suffolk’s cabinet member for finance, said: “I think it is a really good scheme. I hope we can agree to back it.

“High Streets are struggling. Hopefully shops, cafes and some pubs, and all local businesses, will benefit.”

The scheme is government-backed, so would not lose the district council any income, he added.

They had identified up to 159 businesses in the district which could be eligible.

He said: “If we go ahead with this scheme, some will get a pleasant surprise when their new rate bill drops through the letterbox.”

The new scheme is set to benefit small businesses with properties under a rateable value of £51,000, and relief should be available for the years 2019/20 and 2020/21.

Meanwhile Babergh Council has identified 267 eligible properties on its patch where businesses could qualify for relief.

Local business thinks it is a good idea.

Allan Scott, chairman of Stowmarket and District Chamber of Commerce said: “With the multiple challenges facing our high street businesses at the moment, every penny counts.

“So the Chamber is delighted to hear that Mid Suffolk District Council are considering offering a substantial discount on their business rates. We would strongly urge that this measure be adopted when it comes before the council’s cabinet next week.”

Jane Haylock, who has been running Idler Book Shop in Hadleigh High Street for 39 years, said: “I think it is a very good idea.

“The majority of shops are quite small. The high streets have been struggling. If you have got to pay a large slice of your income as rates it is a problem. It makes a tremendous difference to small businesses.”


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