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Rates rebate is a relief for hard-pressed firms

Struggling shops and restaurants will be given a leg-up with a £2,000 discount on their business rates over the next two years. Business owners across the district, who are thought to pay some of the country’s highest taxes, will benefit from the national scheme. The rebate will cost the city council £1.8 million, which will be reimbursed by the government. It will apply to almost 900 retail firms with a rateable value of up to £50,000, including florists, bakers, jewellers, off licences, post offices, car showrooms and petrol stations. But some businesses, including estate agents, betting shops and banks, will not be eligible for the reduction. The initiative was announced by the government in December, but local authorities are allowed to decide which businesses should benefit. The council’s executive will discuss how the business rates relief scheme will work at a meeting this evening (Thursday). It has been welcomed by the Canterbury City Partnership, which expects nearly 80% of businesses in the city centre to benefit. Chairman Bob Jones says:

“This is great news for many of our local small independent businesses at a time when the recession is beginning to show signs of coming to an end. They have worked incredibly hard to stay afloat and this discount will be very welcome.”

Mr Jones says the scheme could help allay concerns about the Business Improvement District proposal, which would compel businesses to pay a levy to improve the city centre. He adds:

“The main concern from small businesses is the levy they would be required to pay each year to make BID improvements across the city, including Christmas lights. For many of them, this rebate, which is £2,000 over two years to 2016, will cover the BID levy over the five-year period, with some cash left over to reinvest in their business.”

Business owners will vote for whether or not they want the BID to go ahead at a ballot between June 18 and July 17.

WHO WILL BENEFIT?

The winners:
Shops
Supermarkets
Charity shops
Opticians
Post offices
Furniture shops
Car showrooms
Markets
Petrol stations
Garden centres
Restaurants
Cafes
Pubs
Hair and beauty salons
Travel agents
Dry cleaners
Funeral directors

The losers:
Banks
Betting shops
Pawnbrokers
Estate agents
Employment agencies
Vets
Doctors
Dentists
Solicitors
Accountants
Sorting offices

Herne Bay Gazette, April 10th 2014

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