A government-funded scheme to boost small high street retailers could see hundreds of Epping Forest businesses benefit from £1.5m.
News of the cash injection has been welcomed by councillors who have witnessed their local shops and services disappearing from the high street.
Help comes in the form of rate relief offered to eligible retailers with a rateable value below £51,000. If they qualify for the scheme retailers could receive a one-third discount on their business rates bills. This scheme starts in 2019/20 and runs through to 2020/21.
Cabinet Member for Customer Services, Councillor Helen Kane said: “We welcome this new policy because we recognise that changing consumer behaviour presents a significant challenge for retailers in our town centres. The discount is one-third of the rates bill after all other reliefs have been applied. Advice from Government is that all retailers that meet the qualifying criteria will receive the relief.”
Shops such as florists, bakers, stationers, off licences, opticians, markets, garden centres and many more are among the businesses that could benefit as long as their rateable value is below £51,000. There is no relief available under this policy for properties with a higher rateable value.
1.5m into local economy
“We already have a well-established Discretionary Rate Relief scheme covering charities, voluntary and not for profit organisations such as St Clare Hospice, sports clubs and the scouts” said Cllr Kane.
“I estimate that with this new money we can pump an extra £1.5 million back into the local economy, providing just the boost many of our small high street businesses need right now.”
The Government will fully reimburse local authorities for the lost business rates income arising from relief granted under this scheme. Business such as banks, estate agents, vets, dentists, doctors, solicitors, accountants, insurance agents and Post office sorting offices do not qualify.