South Somerset District Council is encouraging local businesses to act now to find out if they can benefit from additional support for business rate relief schemes while funding is available.
Over £110,000 has been made available over the past year from the district council for hardship and rural rate relief, which in turn could attract further funding from central Government worth up to £400,000 in total.
The support means that many local businesses, village pubs, post offices, shops and petrol stations could potentially have up to 100% of their business rates paid for them for a limited period of time – often equating to hundreds, or thousands of pounds of savings.
Awareness of the funding is specifically being targeted at small businesses in severe hardship, and at rural businesses that are the ‘only business running’ in a village or hamlet, at a time when the centrally set rateable values are being reviewed.
However, the district council is also urging all types of businesses to find out about the entire range of relief schemes available, and reminding them that applications specifically for hardship relief can be made by any business ratepayer in the district.
Applications specifically for hardship relief must be submitted by 31 March to benefit from the additional funding made available last year, and are dependent on eligibility criteria.
Cllr Tim Carroll, Leader of South Somerset District Council explains, “South Somerset District Council is targeting business to make them aware of the range of schemes, specific funding and access to business support that is available to help them.
“We all know it is early days for recovery and the year ahead will remain challenging for many. We are encouraging applications now so that businesses can maximise the support and funding they can get.
“For every pound that we at the district council provide, the government will allocate a further three pounds into the local economy.
“It is essential that we support the economy and in turn help retain people’s jobs and help keep villages self-sufficient and vibrant.”
Small businesses will receive postcards from the district council in the next two weeks advertising the business rate relief support schemes and encouraging them to discuss what is available and see if they are eligible.
It is just one of a series of actions identified in the district council’s Recession Strategy, which sets out a range of support actions for families, school leavers and businesses not just during the recession but during the period it takes for the economy to recovery from it.
Cllr Carroll added, “The effect of the recession will no doubt mean that many more businesses now qualify as being the ‘last business’ in a village.
“Whilst signs of recovery may be seen nationally, businesses looking to recover and strengthen for the year ahead will no doubt benefit from all the support they can get.
“Our economic development, licensing and business rate relief teams will now be working closely together and with business owners to ensure as many businesses benefit as possible.”
A review of potential qualifiers for the rural rate relief is also underway which will lead to targeted contact with the relevant businesses.
Other reliefs include; small business rate relief, charitable relief (including not for profit organisations and registered community amateur sports clubs), empty property relief, and relief for short-term partial occupation of premises.
Business owners are invited to visit www.southsomerset.gov.uk/businesssupport to view the available business rate relief schemes and key eligibility criteria for each.
Advisors are also available at South Somerset District Council on 01935 462462, and by emailing email@example.com