Rural firms seek Budget boost

THE Federation of Small Businesses is calling on Chancellor Alistair Darling to deliver a Budget boost for rural firms. In a survey of more than 300 FSB members based in rural communities and those working in the tourism industry, nearly one in three said the next six months will be difficult for their business.

THE Federation of Small Businesses is calling on Chancellor Alistair Darling to deliver a Budget boost for rural firms.

In a survey of more than 300 FSB members based in rural communities and those working in the tourism industry, nearly one in three said the next six months will be difficult for their business. more than 80% said they were suffering from rising costs while 46% reported decreasing trade.

The survey also revealed the potential knock on effects of the failure of a single small firm, with more than 40% the businesses surveyed depending on one or more “sole” local business - the only one of its kind in the community - such as a food shop, general store, petrol station, post office or pub.

“Behind dramatic headlines of mass redundancies and big business closures, rural businesses have been suffering in silence and sole businesses need Government support now so they can weather the downturn,” said an FSB spokesman.


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The FSB is calling for a rural recession rate relief scheme, involving a top up from the Treasury of the non-domestic rates pool enabling local authorities ton give 100% rate relief to vital small, rural businesses.

It says the scheme should run for an initial period of 12 months, with the Government then reviewing the situation to assess if the measure needs to be extended.

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With business rates also being the third largest item of expenditure for small firms, the FSB is also calling for business rate relief to be made automatic. Currently, more than �400 million goes unclaimed every year because small firms are unaware they are entitled to rate relief.

Essex FSB regional organiser Keith Brown, said: “Rural businesses have been quietly suffering during these testing times just as much as big, city businesses - but behind the dramatic headlines of big business failures. These figures prove that the collapse of one small firm in a small town or village can have a devastating impact on the entire community.

“Rural businesses need help. With one in three small firms in rural areas concerned about their financial prospects over the next six months, the Government must take action to keep the heart of the village community alive.

“The rural recession rate relief scheme we are putting forward could be the difference between the death of small rural communities or their survival.”

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