West Suffolk: Small retail businesses get a helping hand from borough councils

West Suffolk House in Bury

West Suffolk House in Bury - Credit: Archant

Small retailers have been lent a hand by two west Suffolk councils after they adopted a scheme to cut business rates.

Both St Edmundsbury and Forest Heath have adopted the Business Rates Retail Relief announced by the chancellor George Osborne in December’s Autumn Statement.

Under the plans, retailers such as shops, restaurants and cafes with a rateable value of less than £50,000 could be granted up to a £1,000 reduction in their bill, with central government compensating local authorities for the shortfall.

It is part of the efforts to boost small businesses in high streets across the area, and councillor Alaric Pugh, St Edmundsbury’s cabinet member for the economy, said it was a step in the right direction.

He added: “Small retail businesses play a vital role in communities and town centres and they are finding times tough. We are working hard to identify eligible businesses so we can include the discount in as many March bills as possible.

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“Small business is essential to the resilience of the economy. West Suffolk has the country’s highest proportion of fast-growing businesses, and the council’s job is to create the conditions to drive that growth.”

West Suffolk officers are now trying to identify eligible businesses before next month’s bills are sent out, as the likes of estate agents, solicitors and betting shops are not eligible.

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Business rates are set by central government, with local authorities sending out the bills and collecting the money for the Treasury.

Businesses pay a proportion of their rateable value in rates. For the next financial year the proportion is 48.2%, so a business with a rateable value of £50,000 would be paying approximately £24,100, although other factors are taken into account.

David Bowman, Forest Heath’s cabinet member for economic growth, said: “Economic growth is a priority in Forest Heath. Our six point plan for jobs and growth is designed to deliver that growth by providing the conditions to encourage and support it.”

To check if you are eligible visit www.stedmundsbury.gov.uk

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